The Hagia (Saint) Sophia, one of the world's greatest symbols, was built 1,500 years ago as an Orthodox Christian cathedral in Constantinople, now Istanbul. Last week, one of the most distressing decisions was made when the Turkish government converted the former museum into a mosque.

The architectural masterpiece was the heart of Orthodox Christianity before the Ottomans conquered it.

The problem with this conversion is that it counters its shared harmony in both Christian and Muslim history, reverses a UNESCO agreement to maintain accessibility as a museum, and revives and reignites fanatical nationalism and religious sentiment.

My indignation notwithstanding, the global backlash has been swift and unhesitating. Pope Francis said he was "deeply pained;" the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church has condemned the move; Russia's Patriarch branded it "a threat to the whole of Christian civilization." Governments from the United States and around the world are denouncing it, but the Turkish government has shrugged off the rebukes, framing the decision as an exercise of Turkish sovereignty.

Your prayers are needed. People of goodwill are being asked to join in a Day of Mourning on Friday, July 24 for the conversion of the #HagiaSophia in Istanbul back into a museum, a place of meeting and dialogue between people of all faiths and cultures.

Ask your place of worship to toll its bells and ask your local leaders for flags to be raised to half-mast. From the recitation of the Rosary to simply opening your palms to the heavens with your own blessed thoughts, please pray with us.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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