Sunday, May 22, 2011

St. Nicholas Churches Around the World - Tarpon Springs, Florida, USA

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Postcard was purchased in Tarpon Springs, Florida
How many people living in America haven't heard of Tarpon Springs and the wonderful Orthodox commemoration of Epiphany celebrated there? The one where the Blessing of the Waters take place on the day celebrating Christ's Baptism? The one where a multitude of young men dive in after the cross that is tossed into the water by the bishop or a priest? Haven't heard of it? Well, then come back by here next year on January 6th - Epiphany - where I will highlight it.
But for now, I want to tell a little bit about the history of this lovely St. Nicholas Church and about a very special need it currently has.
Image courtesy: The Patz Web
In 1907 the first St. Nicholas Church located here was built. It was a small-framed church building painted white with a cross set over its entrance. Seating 250 people it probably didn't look much different from most of the buildings built in Florida at that time. It was called St. Nicholas because the devout men and women who built it along the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, were sponge divers from islands in Greece; islands located very close to St. Nicholas's homes of Patara and Myra. To have St. Nicholas - the guardian of seamen - as their patron saint was not only natural, but in this land plagued by hurricanes, wise! 
By 1935 the community had grown to more than 2,700. It was decided that a new building was needed. But, there were not enough funds. So what did the sponge divers and dealers do? "They agreed to donate the best sponges to St. Nicholas, then the buyers would purchase the sponges for an increased amount, in hopes to raise the money that was needed." (See epiphany city) Note how they donated "the best" sponges! This and many acts of giving all contributed to a new building being built. On Epiphany of 1943 the Archbishop consecrated the church he called, "one of the most beautiful Orthodox churches in the world." Indeed it is.
Image courtesy: St. Nicholas Church
But now, with the building being nearly 70 years old, its beautiful dome - a true Byzantine feature - is in need of repairs.
Dome today
Images courtesy: St. Nicholas Church
And how it will look after it is repaired:
Dome of the Future
What strikes me about this is considering the age of many of the St. Nicholas churches I have posted about, this one isn't very old. But in the way of entropy buildings - even those built with love and care - do eventually wear down. It takes a whole new group of people to care for the heritage left to them by those who came before. Not just for this St.Nicholas church but for all churches around the world (of any name!). It is for all those people, most of whose names we don't even know, who have, through the centuries, cared for the lovely buildings built in God's honor, that I dedicate this post.
The parishioners of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church of Tarpon Springs are in good company as they strive to protect their church building. Many blessings to them on their restoration project. Please read about their Dome Renovation "Faith in Action" project here
And join me - and St. Nicholas Church of Tarpon Springs - for Epiphany next January 6th! (Actually, if you live close to the city - I recommend it as a destination!)


Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Dear Ann
One could spend a lifetime visiting all the beautiful churches around the world.. This one is just beautiful.. Thank you for taking me along.

Sara Bentley said...

How lovely! Love the story of how they raised the funds to build the new church -- seems very fitting :)

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Good morning dearest Ann!!! THANK YOU FOR TAKING ME TO FLORIDA and come on down next week and visit all the blogs who are participating in the PARIS TOUR....get your Wellies in case it rains or put on your pumps and walk in style (I have seen some women there riding their bikes with a skirt and heels!) and have fun with us.

Enjoy your Sunday!!! Anita

Pat said...

Beautiful church and fascinating history. Their repaired dome will be fabulous! Look forward to the Epiphany post :) xx

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I am so glad that they are restoring this beautiful building. It will look wonderful when it is finished. Diane

imac said...

Its beautiful, would love to go, but I have such a long list of where to go,lol.

Lois Evensen said...

What a wonderful story!

Madi and Mom said...

Hi Ann
What a lovely post for this beautiful church. I have never heard of Tarpon Spring and was happy to read all about it.
Madi's Mom

Zuzana said...

Dear Ann, another stunning church. I was thinking about you the other day on my drive to work, as for the first time (and I have been driving that way for years) I noticed a sign on the side of the road stating "St Nicolas Spring". I will investigate at my very first opportunity.;))
Have a lovely week, how is Edward?
Batcat is not too well, suffering from kidney problems, perhaps stones.:(

diane b said...

Interesting post. I wish the community the best of luck with the restoration.

Mandie said...

That is a beautiful church indeed. I have always fancied the spanish style. What a great mission to resotre the dome. I never thought about it that way but it is so true. It takes a new batch of people to care and take care of all buildings like that.

Mademoiselle Poirot said...

Such a lovely looking church and I really like the style. I do hope the restauration goes well :-) Wishing you a lovely week xo

Michele said...

another beautiful church. and a lovely reflection by you about the care and love that goes into keeping these churches beautiful. take good care. xo

Liesl said...

Fascinating Ann,will you post pictures of the church when the renovating is done?

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

YEAH ANN!!!!! I just got home and saw your comment; I am so excited to VISIT EVERYONE TOMORROW!!! What fun we will have......lots of love, Anita

Splendid Little Stars said...

lovely church! I never heard of the Blessing of the Waters celebration. It sounds wonderful!