The man who constructed Hagia Sophia was a pagan named Phokas. He was tortured to death by a Christian missionary for his religious beliefs. After his death, the Byzantine emperor Justinian ordered that he be buried with the burial of an ass. That is how they treated him. Phokas was the prefect who supervised the initial construction of Hagia Sophia. He was tortured by a missionary named John of Ephesus when it became known that Phokas was not a Christian. The missionary gleefully writes how Phokas took his own life unable to bear the torture. Phokas was among those late Pagans who lived in a Christian world. They reconciled their Platonist beliefs with Christianity. They freely reinterpreted Christian symbolism. Thus, while Hagia Sophia was a church for Christians, it was for pagans a personification of “wisdom”.