Today we started off celebrating Mass at the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua. What a beautiful church and of course, what a special experience for Fr. Anthony to be able to celebrate Mass in a Basilica named for his patron saint. Fr. Anthony shared with us that he had heard from his mother about St. Anthony all of his life and was so happy to be able to wear vestments with an image of St. Anthony today.
After leaving the Basilica, we continued on to see several sites in Istanbul, including one of the world's largest ancient cathedrals, the Hagia Sophia. It's now a museum, but in its history, dating back to the 5th Century, it has served as the Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica, a Roman Catholic cathedral and a mosque. It's most famous for its massive dome, that modern engineers have not been able to reconstruct. We also visited a famous cistern or underground water storage used in ancient times. The columns and construction were spectacular--it's hard to believe that these ancient civilizations were so advanced and had such modern conveniences so long ago.