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.
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!)