After 85 years as a museum, the Hagia Sophia is poised to once again become a mosque. Might it also again become a church?
A Turkish court is scheduled to rule on July 2 if the iconic Byzantine basilica can be opened for Muslim worship.
Built in 537 by Emperor Justinian, in 1453 the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II converted the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Five centuries later, the secularizing founder of modern Turkey, Kamal Ataturk, turned it into a museum.
UNESCO designated the Hagia Sophia as a World Heritage Site in 1985.
President Recep Erdogan has long stated his desire that the building would welcome prayer. In March, he led guests in silent Quranic recitation on the 567th anniversary of the conquest of Constantinople, dedicating the prayer to Mehmet II.
Last week, Erdogan found an unlikely supporter.
“I believe that believers’ praying suits better the spirit of the temple than curious tourists running around to take pictures,” tweeted Armenian Patriarch Sahak II, resident in Istanbul. “The site is large enough to allocate a space for Christians, [so that] the world…
This article was first published at Christianity Today, on June 29, 2020. Please click here to read the full text.