The Saint Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine Observes Day of Mourning
St. Augustine, FL – Hierarchal Pastor, Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, with Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos and V. Rev. Joseph Samaan, will hold the full Akathist Hymn in the Chapel of St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine on Friday, July 24 at 6:00 p.m. Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and the members of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America designated Friday, July 24, 2020 a “Day of Mourning and Manifest Grief”.
July 24, 2020 is the day in which the first official Jum’ah prayers (the Islamic Friday congrational prayer service) has been scheduled at the ancient Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, sparking a global response of furor around a World Heritage Site of religious significance by Christians and Muslims alike. On July 10, President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey issued the decree converting the museum of Hagia Sophia to a mosque minutes after the Turkish Supreme Court announced that it had revoked Hagia Sophia’s museum status, which for the last 80 years had made it a monument of relative religious harmony and a symbol of the secularism that was part of the foundation of the modern Turkish state.
Throughout the world, bells will toll at 12 noon on Friday while flags fly at half-mast at Orthodox Christian places of worship. Globally, Orthodox Christians recoil at the systemic disregard of human rights and international law regarding religious tolerance in Turkey. Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece said, “I will preside over the Service of the Akathist Hymn at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens and I call on all of you to chant in one voice ‘To the Invincible Champion’.”
Leaders of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) reminded its members of the words of St. Vladimir regarding Hagia Sophia: “We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendor or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you: only this we know that God dwells there among humans, and that their service surpasses that of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty.” Every parish within the OCA is also called to toll bells and furl flags at half-mast in one voice rejecting the conversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque.
On July 24, St. Augustine will recognize this tragedy with the closing of St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine, The Jewel of St. George Street, recognizing for the day the disrespect once again shown to The Jewel of Byzantium. All are invited to participate in the Akathist service live-streamed at https://www.facebook.com/SaintPhotios.