saint sophia greek orthodox cathedral: haghia sophia

Thursday, July 31: Yesterday, FedEx delivered my papers from the university in China where I’ll be working, so after my class today I head downtown to the Chinese Embassy’s visa office on Wisconsin Avenue.  The process seems pretty straightforward.  I have to return next Wednesday, August 6, to pick up my passport with my visa in it. It looks like I’ll be on my way before too long.

As there’s nothing else to do at this point but wait, and as I’m already downtown, I go to visit Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral.  It’s another on my list of places to photograph in D.C., and it’s not far from the visa office, so I show up on the doorstep of the Cathedral only to find all the doors locked.

Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral

According to the Cathedral’s website, each of the transliterated Greek words which make up the name, Haghia and Sophia, has two meanings: the former means “holy” and “saint” (like, the Latin sancta), while the latter means “wisdom” and is also a female name. Probably through the Germanized Latin rendering of the name of the Cathedral in Constantinople, Sankta Sophia, Saint Sophia came to be accepted in English. However, Greek name means Holy Wisdom, for the cathedral is dedicated to Jesus Christ, who is the Wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24), and not to a saint named Sophia. The word Saint is by custom always spelled out in the name.

On the facade, surmounting an arch which embraces the three main entrance doors, is found in relief the two-headed eagle which expresses the unity of the Byzantine State and the Church. The early Byzantines felt that the Church would baptize the whole spirit and organization of society and the Emperor would provide for the physical welfare of the people as the vicar of God on Earth.

Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Around the side of the Cathedral, I find a doorbell and ring it.  As I’m about to give up and leave, a man appears from around a corner.  I tell him I’m a photographer and have heard the Cathedral is a beautiful place to photograph.  He’s happy to take me in and show me around.

Inside the cathedral
Inside the cathedral

It’s quite dark inside, and he offers to turn on the lights, but he can’t get the light switch to work.  I take some pictures in the dark.  Finally, he comes out from a room where he’s been flipping switches and tells me he can’t get the lights to come on.  They have trouble with them periodically, apparently.  I tell him not to worry; I’ll just come back another day.

The architectural style of the Cathedral is Byzantine, with the typical central dome about 80 feet high symbolizing Jesus Christ as head of the Church.

under the dome
under the dome
Stained glass windows
Stained glass windows
ceiling
ceiling
iron doors
iron doors

This parish was established in 1904 by newly arrived Greek immigrants. After worshiping in rented or makeshift quarters, the community built its own church at 8th and L Streets, N.W.  It was completed and dedicated in 1924, remaining there until moving to this site, which was purchased in 1943. Ground breaking and foundation stone laying occurred on September 25, 1951.

stained glass
stained glass

The building, designed by architect Archie Protopapas of New York City was ready for occupancy on February 19, 1955. The first service was celebrated on February 20, 1955. The cornerstone was laid by President Dwight D. Eisenhower with His Eminence Michael, Archbishop of North and South America, officiating on September 30. 1956. Saint Sophia was elevated to the status of a cathedral on September 24, 1962.

Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral
the Virgin
the Virgin
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
arched ceiling

I hope I’ll be able to get back to take better pictures another time, but I don’t know if I’ll make it before I leave.  There’s always next year!

The dome of Saint Sophia
The dome of Saint Sophia

 

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13 thoughts on “saint sophia greek orthodox cathedral: haghia sophia

    1. Thanks, Carol. I’m glad you like them. It’s a little hard to hold the camera still enough to keep the pictures from being blurry, but I tried my best! 🙂

      I hope I can go back one of these days. Enjoy your weekend coming up!

  1. I think the lighting lends them atmosphere, Cathy. They’re beautiful 🙂 And you were much luckier than I was with the monastery in Krakow. My bell ringing didn’t work there, at all!
    You’re on your way, hon. Make the most of this time with Mike. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jo. I’m glad you like the low-lit atmosphere! Oh no, too bad no one answered your ringing at the monastery. I was surprised anyone answered here, it seemed so deserted. I guess there isn’t much happening in a church on a weekday afternoon.

      We’re trying to make the best of things in our short time. I’m really looking forward to having some relaxing and fun times in Puerto Rico! Have fun on your trip too, Jo. 🙂

  2. Well they look like pretty decent photographs to me! Lovely windows. You must have your visa now – so next step book the flight? Do they sort out accommodation for you whilst you are there? I hope you like it when you get there.

    1. Thanks, Jude. They seem a little blurry to me, but then again maybe that’s just my eyesight failing! I have the visa now and Mike’s travel agent is booking my ticket today. And yes, the university provides accommodation right on the campus. It will be a short walk away from work. I hope I’ll like it too. I’m really hoping it will be a great adventure. 🙂

  3. Good Afternoon, Cathy. I am enjoying reading your blog, Nomad, Interrupted. It sounds like you and Alex have had a great time.

    I just read your blog (https://catbirdinamerica.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/coming-full-circle-summertime-amidst-virginias-flowers/) and saw that you have some exciting travels in your future. Puerto Rico is exciting in and of itself; however, China? I am curious as to what is taking you to China and how long you plan to be there. I had a cousin who met and married a man from China in the late 1920’s (long before I was born!) when she was in New York on a music scholarship. Her husband was in New York to study hydraulic engineering but when the depression hit, he lost his job, moved back to China and sent for his wife and their young child. She lived in China for 40 years. Her husband became ill and died in 1955, leaving her to raise their three children. She actually began teaching English at a university. Eventually, the Red Guards came for her, denouncing her and stripping her of all she had achieved. She returned to the United States in 1974 and died in 1979. Another cousin wrote a book about her: Grace In China, An American Woman Beyond the Great Wall, 1934 – 1974. It’s an interesting read.

    Have you set up the website for your 52-Week Photo Challenge? If so, please send me the website address so I can forward it to the other bloggers who will want to follow you.

    Also, I know you told me but I do not recall your last name. I’m embarrassed! Also, what is the name and the location of your camera club (if any) and do you think there are others who will want to blog with us? If so, just ask them to contact me. The more, the merrier.

    Please respond to me via email: tnwaltz@comcast.net

    Mary Nell Moore
    http://www.marynellmoore.wordpress.com

    1. Hi Mary Nell, I just found this comment in my pending comments for a long-ago post and I wonder why I never saw it!! I’m so sorry I’ve never replied. I guess you commented at a time when I was getting underway for China, and now I’ve been and come back, from September 1, 2014 to July 15, 2015! I’m back home now. That’s an interesting story about your cousin; I just found the book and added it to my Goodreads list. It was an interesting year, and you can find my blog about it at http://www.catbirdinchina.wordpress.com

      I never did the 52-week photo challenge, and I’m not sure if I can do it this year either! By the way, my name is Cathy Birdsong Dutchak. Birdsong is my maiden name. Hopefully, now that I’m settled back in at home, I can get on a more regular blog-reading and writing schedule. 🙂

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