I wanted to share a few more photos of the Hagia Sophia, whose history as a Christian church dates back to the early 6th century. Here is a photo of the inner narthex, where I was told those who were being instructed in the Christian faith would gather for their instruction; they were not allowed even to gaze into the cathedral.
Here is the main door into the Hagia Sophia's inner narthex. You can see traces of the crosses that once adorned these doors, which were removed when the church was converted into a mosque.
And the mosaic above the door into the main space.
A closeup of the mosaic.
I marveled at the Christian mosaics that had been painted over when this place was converted to a mosque in 1453. Ataturk declared it neither a mosque nor a Christian cathedral in the 1930's. It is now a museum.
As you can well imagine, I was keen on discovering the baptistery. I read in many tour books that it had been converted into a Sultan's mausoleum. Our guide led us to the space. The font was enormous, carved out of one solid piece of stone, with steps leading down on one side and up and out on the other. Some photos.
But to me it seemed like it had simply been plopped there from elsewhere, kind of pushed up against the wall, if that were at all possible for this multi-ton structure.
Not sure if you can read this about the baptistery and font. "It has a square shape plan, covered with a dome, an apse on the east and a porch on the west. Some architectural remains in the courtyard indicate that it may possibly be older than Hagia Sophia (4th-5th century)." I am skeptical about this space and whether or not it was the baptistery or something older, or whether or not the font is original to one of the three churches that were the Hagia Sophia. More research is in order. Anyone out there know more?
On Sunday, I attended Mass at Saint Anthony of Padua, one of a handful of Catholic churches in this massive city. Outside this very Western European styled building, in the courtyard, is a lovely statue of Saint John XXIII.
The parish is made up largely of people from the Philippines and people from Africa. So interesting. The choir was Philippino, as were the lectors and the "commentator," who spoke the directions as to when to sit and when to stand (even though she would say these directions right after we had all instinctively done so). All of the servers were African men. The assembly was made up mostly of African young adult males, Philippinos, and tourists. By the way, even though the prayers were prayed by Father Julius, an African priest, directly from the recent translation of the Roman Missal, the Gloria was the former text. I really loved the music. Here is photo of one of the young African men praying after Mass.
The piety of these African Catholics in front of the tabernacle after Mass was so evident.
And a festive gathering in the courtyard after Mass.
I was saddened to leave Istanbul. Before leaving, I got to cross over the Bosphoros in a ferry to the Asian side of the city; my first time on the Asian continent. A photo of the "small step for Jerry" as I touched Asian ground for the first time!
So much more to share about my visit to the ancient ruins of Hierapolis and Pamukkale, which occurred yesterday, but I am exhausted from writing this entry, and you are probably exhausted from reading it! Until tomorrow,
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.