16 June 2010

Cordoba Cathedral: the Hunwicke solution

My first instinct, when reading of the proposal that Moslems be allowed to worship in Cordoba Cathedral, on the grounds that they built it (on the site of a church which they had demolished), was: how right the Bishop of Cordoba is to refuse it. Celebrating the Eucharist in a former mosque can be a joyous experience; I remember, in Crete, many years ago, going to the Liturgy in the Church of S Titus, which still retained all the glorious architectural and decorative features of the mosque it had been (built on the site of a church). Rambling still further, I recall a superb Orthodox church on the waterfront at Rhodes, which was built by the Italians and, after the war, "purified from the dogma of the Latins" and adorned with superb murals in mid-Byzantine style. Rambling yet more inconsequentially, I remember the Hospital Chapel in Exeter; the area directly in front of the Aumbry, where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved, did additional duty as the area set aside for Moslem prayer and equipped with prayer-mats.

But then I wondered about the possibility of a world-wide game of musical chairs. Cordoba Cathedral, the Bishop of Cordoba could promise, would be handed over to the Moslems on the very self-same day when Hagia Sophia and all other sites in Constantinople originally devoted to Byzantine worship are restored to the See of S Andrew. Because that leaves us Latins rather disadvantaged ... as we so commonly seem to be ... we could be comforted by having a handful of the monasteries on Athos (where there were indeed Latin monks during the first millennium) handed over to us.

You know it makes sense.


Patruus said...

One of the earliest instances of Muslim-Christian accommodation is when the Arabian prophet, so we are told, permitted a visiting Christian delegation to conduct their Sunday service in his mosque.

(4th para. et. seq.)

Christian said...

Not only were there Latins on Athos in the first millennium, I believe their was a brief return during the second. One can also find evidence for the presence of quite a few Latins (many of the OFM) at St Catherine's in the Sinai. Most recently, in the seventeenth century, one can find documents which show that the bishops of Crete were asking the clergy and pious laity of their diocese to to to the Jesuits and Capuchins on the island for confession, as the training of Greek clergy was so poor and the great learning and piety of the Latin regulars was so evident.

F.G.S.A said...

Good grief! I wonder that the Holy Office has not yet censured or struck down the last comment as not only historically incorrect but also far-fetched and politically-motivated. Let us rather meditate on the Byzantine heritage of Venice, Ravenna, Calabria,Dalmatia etc, and upon those worthy Armenian monks who prayerfully watch over the Venetian lagoon.

Fr LR said...

But alas, wasn't the "Byzantine heritage of Venice, Ravenna, Calabria,Dalmatia etc." steeped in the Arian heresy?

F.G.S.A said...

Oh,how Arian St Peter Chrysologus and St Chromatius of Aquileia who actually combated Arianism. The unfortunate schism of Aquileia, following disagreement on the 2nd Council of Constantinople, lasted only briefly being reconciled to the Catholic faith in 700. Successive popes confirmed the privileges of the patriarchs of Aquileia. Both coasts of the Adriatic have always furnished and nurtured eminent luminaries of the orthodox catholic faith.

Gideon Ertner said...

Actually, a few years ago there was a campaign to swap Córdoba Cathedral for Hagia Sophia, spearheaded by Prince Hassan of Jordan. Thankfully it came to nothing.