December Thoughts, Then and Now, by Francis X. Maier

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*Image: Remains of the Byzantine Deësis in the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque (Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi). Our Lady and John the Baptist petition Christ to have mercy on mankind [Photo: Smarthistory via byzantologist/flickr]

By Francis X. Maier, The Catholic Thing, Dec. 29, 2022

Francis X. Maier is a senior fellow in Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

History is a great teacher.  According to oral tradition, when Emperor Justinian walked into the completed Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) on December 27, A.D. 537, he stared in silence for a long time at the immense beauty of the basilica he had commissioned before finally whispering, “Solomon, I have surpassed you.”

He was probably right.  Hagia Sophia was the artistic triumph of a millennium.  For 916 years, it permeated the daily life of the imperial city of Constantinople.  …

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