Pope Francis stated he was «deeply pained» after a Turkey court ruled to convert Hagia Sophia in Istanbul back to a mosque.
The Pope was talking to a crowd who had gathered at the Vatican City's iconic St. Peter's Square on Sunday.
«And the sea brings me a little far away with my thought: to Istanbul, I am thinking of St. Sophia and I am deeply pained.»
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Friday that Istanbul's Hagia Sophia museum would be re-opened as a mosque on July 24, following a court decision earlier in the day.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Hagia Sophia was originally an Orthodox Christian cathedral before being converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest in 1453. It was turned into a museum in 1934.