Bells will toll in mourning and flags will fly at half-mast at all churches of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America on July 24, the day on which the first official Islamic prayer service has been scheduled at Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. On that “day of morning and grief” the Akathist Hymn, a religious hymn that has traditional political function among the Greek Orthodox, will be chanted in all churches of the Archdiocese.
The declaration of a day of “mourning and intense grief” was decided by the Holy Synod of the Archdiocese in a video conference call chaired by Archbishop of America Elpidophoros on Thursday.
The Holy Synod declared a “day of mourning and intense grief.”
In an announcement, the Holy Synod called Turkey’s decision the start of a “programme of cultural and spiritual misappropriation and a violation of all models for harmonious coexistence and mutual respect.”
It stressed that they will never stop pursuing their righteous demands for Hagia Sophia.
They also called on churches to perform the same liturgy on the evening of July 24 as on the Friday of the fifth week of Lent.
“Knowing that on Friday, July 24th, there will be an ‘inauguration’ of this program of cultural and spiritual misappropriation and a violation of all standards of religious harmony and mutual respect, we call upon all the beloved faithful of our Holy Archdiocese to observe this day as a day of mourning and of manifest grief. We urge you to invite your fellow Orthodox Christians and indeed all Christians and people of goodwill to share in the following observances.
We ask that every Church toll its bells in lamentation on this day. We call for every flag of every kind that is raised on the Church property be lowered to half-mast on this day. And we enjoin every Church in our Holy Archdiocese to chant the Akathist Hymn in the evening of this day, just as we chant it on the Fifth Friday of the Great and Holy Fast,” the Holy Synod statement said among others.
It should be recalled that born and raised in Istanbul and as a bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America has particular ties with Hagia Sophia.
Works to convert the iconic Byzantine Basilica Hagia Sophia into a mosque are proceeding with fast pace despite reactions by the international community.