Holy Wisdom

1 Corinthians 3

Jesus Christ Is the Only Foundation

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds thereon.
But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon. For no other foundation can a man lay than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Hagia Sophia: Wisdom of God

The name Saint Sophia comes from the Greek Ἁγία Σοφία — and means “Holy Wisdom”. It is important to remember that the name of our parish — the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Saint Sophia Wisdom of God, should not be confused with the martyr St. Sophia, who together with her three daughters — Faith, Hope and Love — gave their lives for Christ in the early history of the Church.

Every year in September as close as possible to September 21, the Feast Day of the Parish’s Patron is celebrated on a Sunday to mark the Nativity of the Virgin.

At this feastday of the Θεοτόκος — the Ever-Blessed Virgin who gives birth to God and whose intercession with our Lord Jesus Christ, Orthodox Christians fervently pray for — is honoured for preparing the way for the Wisdom of God to become incarnate.

The first church bearing this name was completed by Emperor Justinian in 537 and became the focus of religious life in Constantinople (now Istanbul, in Turkey). Processions filed in and out of its doors on frequent saints’ days and most of the Byzantine emperors after Justinian were crowned in this church.

More than 10,000 people worked on the building of Hagia Sophia. When it was finished, Justinian is said to have exclaimed, “Solomon, I have outdone thee!” The superficies of the interior are over 23,000 square feet. Passing through two vast porticoes there is a huge vault some 186 feet high and 100 feet wide. The huge central dome, 107 feet across and set on four sturdy piers over the square central area, is flanked by a number of smaller domes. This Byzantine style of church architecture was widely copied, especially in Italy and the Balkans.

Hagia Sophia became a mosque after the fall of Constantinople. Sultan Mehmet II had a soldier flogged for trying to break up a mosaic in the Church of Holy Wisdom. The temple dedicated to Holy Wisdom is now a museum.

2 Chronicles 5

Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the LORD was finished: and Solomon brought in all the things that David his father had dedicated; and the silver, and the gold, and all the furnishings, put he in the treasuries of the house of God.

The Ark Brought into the Temple

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, unto Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.

Therefore all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto the king in the feast which was in the seventh month.

And all the elders of Israel came; and the Levites took up the ark.

And they brought up the ark, and the tabernacle of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, these did the priests and the Levites bring up.

And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, without regard to their divisions.

Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and lyres and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them a hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:)

It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endures forever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD;

So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.

The Church of Saint Sophia at the Mother of All Cities of Rus’

In 1037, Saint Sophia Cathedral was one of the first Christian temples built in East Slavic lands. This majestic 13-domed church, famous for its frescoes and mosaics was named after the church in Constantinople. It was built at the behest of Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of Rus’. The first library and school in Kyivan-Rus’ were situated in this church. The Cathedral was a part of the Saint Sophia Monastery complex — and the main metropolitan church of Kievan-Rus’. Ceremonies to designate envoys, public meetings and the writing of chronicles took place here.

During a siege, as Turks stormed this church, some priests left the altar of Saint Sophia, taking with them the chalice and Blessed Sacrament — our Lord’s Body and Blood. They are hidden this very day in the secret chambers of Saint Sophia. Mongols, too, committed horrific massacres and razed many cities — but spared this church.

Psalm 20

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
Joy in God’s Salvation

The king shall joy in Your strength, O LORD;
and in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
You have given him his heart’s desire,
and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah.

For You meet him with the blessings of goodness:
You set a crown of pure gold on his head.
He asked life of You, and You gave it to him,
even length of days forever and ever.
His glory is great in Your salvation:
honor and majesty have You laid upon him.

A City of Churches Crowned with Gold

In its day, Saint Sophia in Kyiv was a spectacle of golden domes, dominating all other churches. It was rumoured to be more grand than its namesake in Constantinople; it was said to be both larger and packed with more treasures.

Kyiv, known as the “Mother of all cities of Rus'”, was a place where legend merged with reality. When Saint Sophia was built, it marked a time of prosperity for the Kyivan-Rus’ state; a time when it established and maintained close trading and diplomatic contacts with the countries of the Orient and the West. Many European Kings considered it an honour to establish matrimonial ties with the families of the Grand Prince of Kyiv. Rumours of the city’s wealth and beauty as well as the high state of the arts reached many countries of the world. Today as one crosses the threshhold, the bustle of the present remains, while centuries recede.