In stunning one-time cathedral of Constantinople, Francis says his "soul rises to the Almighty."
Pope Francis arrived in Istanbul Saturday, on the second day of his Apostolic Voyage to Turkey, where he was greeted by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and the governor of Istanbul.
A slight change in the morning’s events meant that, instead of starting at the famed Hagia Sofia, he began with a visit to one of Istanbul’s most important mosques, the Sultan Ahmet, also known as the “Blue Mosque.” He was greeted by the Grand Mufti and Imam before entering the mosque for a guided tour.
During his visit to the mosque, the Pope paused for a "moment of silent adoration," according to the director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi.
From there he travelled to the historic Hagia Sophia, or Saint Sophia Museum. He is the third Pope to visit the UNESCO world heritage site. After admirning the beauty of the basilica he signed the visitors book: first in Greek, “Αγία Σοφία του Θεού,” which means Saint Sofia of God. He subsequently wrote in Latin, "Quam dilecta tabernacula tua Domine (Psalmus 83): "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord." He added, "Contemplating the beauty and harmony of this sacred place, my soul rises to the Almighty, source and origin of all beauty, and I ask the Almighty to always guide the hearts of humanity on the path of truth, goodness and peace."
Prior to lunch, the Pope joined members of the local Catholic community in the garden of the Pontifical Delegation to Istanbul, where he also met the president of Turkey’s Catholic episcopal conference, Bishop Ruggero Franceschini, OFM Cap.