During his sermon at Cathedral of St. Michael in Kyiv, Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, expressed his support for the Ecumenical Patriarch’s position on the issue of Hagia Sophia and urged everyone to pray for the Mother Church of Constantinople.
“Today I would like to urge everyone to offer a prayer for our Mother Church of Constantinople and personally for the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew,” said Metropolitan Epifaniy, “Because many of you probably know that in Turkey there is a debate about the possibility of changing the status of Hagia Sophia, which for almost a century is open to people of all views and faiths as a place of becoming familiar with sacred history and beauty, acting like a secular museum. This status was defined by the founder of the Republic of Turkey and its first President, Atatürk, and we share the views and concerns of His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the possible implications of revising this decision.”
Metropolitan Epifaniy highlighted the significant role that Hagia Sophia plays in the of history of the country when the Rus’ in Ukraine adopted Christianity under St. Prince Vladimir of Kyiv: “The Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople is a special place for the Ukrainian people, because, according to the chronicle, it was the exact place, where the ambassadors of our Grand Prince Volodymyr during the service felt the divine presence.” Metropolitan Epifaniy also quoted a passage from the chronicle with their witness: “We did not know, whether we were in heaven or on earth. Because there is no such spectacle or such beauty on earth – we can’t even say [about it].”
“So may the Lord direct everything for the greater good, so that Hagia Sophia may continue to serve love, peace and good for all people, no matter what religion or nation they belong to,” he concluded.