Wednesday, June 6, 2012

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Cardiff

The community was founded in Cardiff due to the fact that during the 19th century South Wales was quite famous for its excellent quality of coal, which was considered the gold of the Celtic soil. Greek sailors travelled here in order to transport the goods. They eventually wished to establish there business in the Welsh capital, hence in 1873 they decided to organise themselves and make up a community. They later agreed to build a church dedicated to Saint Nicholas, who is considered the Patron Saint of sailors. 

Saint Nicholas' Church building was erected in 1906. A special plaque was placed on the outside front wall, which reads that the building of the Church was realized with financial contributions of "Greek Orthodox Ship-owners, Ship-captains and sailors living in Cardiff, Barry and Newport".

The Greek Community in Cardiff continued its development and presented a living witness of real Eastern Orthodox spirit and Hellenic civilization to the hospitable country of Great Britain and in particular to the Principality of Wales where it was based. 

During the II World War many Greek ships had been blocked and had to stay in the port of Cardiff. This resulted in the increase of the Greek population. It is believed that more than 200 Greek ships were actually entering the port of Cardiff every year. This had stopped at about the end of 1960s, as the exporting of coal had progressively declined. During the decade 1955-1965 there was a large movement of Greeks leaving both Greece and Cyprus in order to find a better future elsewhere, one destination being Wales. 
The priests who have served at St. Nicholas Church during the last decades were as follows: Very Rev. Protopresbyter  Fr. Spyridon Dessyllas (1958-1987), Very Rev. Protopresbyter Fr. Anastasios D. Salapatas (1987-1993) and Very Rev. Archimandrite Fr. Amphilochios Andronikakis (1993-1998), who was elected on 4th October 2005 Metropolitan of Kissamos and Selinos in Crete. The present priest in charge is Very Rev. Archimandrite Iakovos Savva (2000-today). 

The two most important elements that bring all Greeks together in Cardiff and South Wales are St. Nicholas Church and the Hellenic School in South Wales. These are the two most dynamic elements of Orthodox faith and Greek culture that the Greeks in the area are trying hard to preserve and develop even further.
It is important to point out that a book has been written entitled "Hellenism in South Wales", written in Greek by Fr. Anastasios Salapatas, bits of which have been taken for this post. This book is the only one of its kind, documenting the history of Greeks and Orthodoxy in Wales. 

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