Assumption Greek Orthodox Church

The outside of the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Pocatello.

POCATELLO — The Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Pocatello will participate in a Day of Mourning at 6 p.m. Friday at 518 N. Fifth Ave.

For Orthodox Christians around the globe, and for all of Christendom, the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople, Turkey, has been the sacred spiritual center and repository of Christian faith and tradition.

On July 26, the Turkish government decided to convert Saint Sophia Cathedral into a mosque, according to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.

“This egregious and unnecessary action is a manifestation of the deterioration of the stance of the Turkish government toward religious minorities in Turkey. Faithful Orthodox Christians throughout the world are deeply distressed by this decision, as are Christians around the world and all people of faith and goodwill,” according to the archdiocese.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America designated Friday as a day of mourning. The archdiocese has asked all Orthodox churches to toll their bells throughout the day and to join in celebrating an Akathist Service 6 p.m. Friday. An Akathist is a church service entreating the Virgin Mary to come to the aid of Christians everywhere.

Saint Sophia Cathedral was built during the height of the Byzantine Empire, and it was the glory of the civilized Christian world for centuries, standing as the greatest Christian church for a thousand years until it became the spoils of war and was eventually converted into a museum.

An architectural marvel, this great cathedral comprised a vision of heaven on earth, and its liturgy was the most magnificent the world has ever seen, according to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.

As the embassy of Saint Vladimir, Prince of Kyiv and All Rus uttered after being present for the divine service: “We did not know whether we were on earth or in heaven.” Such is the spiritual intensity of every aspect of Saint Sophia Cathedral.

Through the centuries, all who approached Constantinople by sea or land beheld the cathedral’s towering majesty rising above the massive walls that encircled the city. The Saint Sophia Cathedral was a reminder of the surety of God’s love and care for his people. It was and indeed still is the very heart of Christian Orthodoxy.