Our Christian cruises, that visit Turkey, always include the church of Hagia Sophia (which means “holy wisdom”). This church was first dedicated in 360 by Emperor Constantius II, son of the city’s founder, Emperor Constantine. During this early time period, the church served as the cathedral, or bishop’s seat. It had originally been called Megale Ekklesia (Great Church), and was changed to Hagia Sophia around 430. It was destroyed during riots in 404, burnt again in 532 and then rebuilt by Emperor Justinian in 565. But, the most public display of the Unesco World Heritage site is still to be seen. Vast global rumors exist that Turkish President Erdogan has been encouraged to host Islamic prayer from the site. If this takes place, it will have political implications that are far reaching and possible prophetic implications as well.
Adjacent to the structure is another fabulous church that we will visit called the Hagia Irene, or Saint Irene. The church, with it’s amazing acoustics, was secularized and converted into a museum by the Turkish government in 1934. During one of our morning visits, we will be able to enjoy praise and worship at this lovely site.
Let’s watch and pray for these precious places and the small number of Christian brothers and sisters associated with them.