"It is a fact that we were hurt by the conversion of Hagia Sophia and Chora Church into mosques," said His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew from the Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni in Cyzicus, Orthodoxia reported.
"These two unique monuments of Constantinople were built as Christian churches. They express the universal spirit of our faith as well as the love and hope of eternity. The unique mosaics and the icons are ‘nourishment for the soul and a remarkable sight for the eyes,’ as the Greek writer and painter, Fotis Kontoglou would say. They are part of the world cultural heritage," Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew added.
"We pray to the God of love, justice, and peace to enlighten the minds and hearts of those in charge."
The Church of Chora was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans, and was turned into a museum in 1958, but last year the Turkish Supreme Court ruled that it should be converted into a mosque, which had not been implemented until last weekend.
His All Holiness also referred to this year's pilgrimage "that is not touched by pandemic time."
"We came to this holy place again this year. We came to the historic Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni in Cyzicus to celebrate in a liturgical gathering the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The Leavetaking of the Feast of the Dormition falls today and it reminds us that we must pay homage to this holy place that seems timeless."
The Ecumenical Patriarch also referred to the towns of Cyzicus and Erdek, which, according to the Ecumenical Patriarch, are deprived of their past glory. “There are no prosperous orthodox communities, churches, monasteries, schools and sacred institutions here any more. But there is the spirit of the Greeks, which was proved indestructible. We can feel it in the air every time we come here. No one is just a visitor. We are all humble pilgrims and we venerate the Theotokos every time we visit the holy monastery in recent years,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew continued.