Friday, October 31, 2014

Orthodox Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and St. Barbara

In an unimportant small ally way in the Old Town of Corfu, one comes across a very small and ‘ancient’ church building dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and St. Barbara. Following the tradition of the city, this church is not only dedicated to one saint, but three.

According to a sign found at the side of the church building, this church was built by Dimoulitsa family. Unfortunately, this church is currently closed. Maybe in the future it could be restored to its previous ‘glory’. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jesus Christ as the physician and the medicine

The fall of man saw an evident blow in the relationship and communion between God and human kind. The ‘illness’ of the fall of Adam received a catholic, an ecumenical meaning, affecting not only humanity but the whole creation. However, the New Adam, i.e. Jesus Christ, cured the human nature with his incarnation, passion, crucifixion and resurrection. He gave man the possibility of being cured. If the New Adam is to be considered as the opposite of Adam, then Jesus is to be understood as the physician and the medicine, not only man’s cure, but also as his health.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Seaside Architecture – Royal Mail First Day Cover

The British seaside resort has a long history. It was in the 18th century that the first Georgian tourists travelled to the coast to find a cure for their ills. To capitalise on the influx of wealthy health-seekers, coastal towns such as Scarborough, Margate, Brighton and Weymouth began to provide entertainment spaces for their visitors, which led to libraries, assembly rooms and theatres opening up alongside seafront terraces.

Though fashion has dictated the look of resorts, there has always been a playfulness about seaside architecture which is rarely found inland. Perhaps the greatest architectural legacy in this respect was left by the Prince Regent, later Kind George IV. The Indian-inspired domes designed by John Nash for his Royal Pavilion at Brighton would be repeated in Victorian and Edwardian buildings up and down the UK, lending an exotic air to many a seaside promenade. And as the railways connected with the coast from the 1840s onwards, new entertainment palaces were being built for people of all classes, not just the rich.
In the Victorian era, engineering technology extended the promenade over the waves. During the 1860s and 1870s, piers were built at an average of two a year. Iron, the material of the age, was also exploited for its decorative potential in kiosks, shelters, railings, bandstands and lamps. The need for indoor entertainments resulted in the development of new building types too, particularly acquaria and winter gardens.

Pleasure palaces containing amusements, theatres, ballrooms and shops began to open from the late 19th century onwards, built in evermore ornate and eclectic styles that offered mass-market luxury for Britain’s holidaymakers.

In the 1930s, outdoor swimming pools known as lidos became resort centrepieces in a number of coastal towns, as healthy holidays in the sun grew increasingly fashionable. Despite the lure of the foreign holidays, British seaside resorts continue to thrive, with new galleries, piers, beach huts and shelters being built to further enhance seafronts across the UK.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Essences and Energies according to Vladimir Lossky

“The theology of the Eastern Church distinguishes in God the three hypostases, the nature or essence, and the energies. The Son and the Holy Spirit are, so to say, personal processions, the energies natural processions. The energies are inseparable from the nature, and the nature is inseparable from the three Persons. These distinctions are of great importance for the Eastern Church's conception of mystical life:
1. The doctrine of the energies, ineffably distinct from the essence, is the dogmatic basis of the real character of all mystical experience. God, who is inaccessible in His essence, is present in His energies 'as in a mirror,' remaining invisible in that which He is; 'in the same way we are able to see our faces, themselves invisible to us in a glass,' according to a saying of St. Gregory Palamas. (Sermon on the Presentation of the Holy Virgin in the Temple). Wholly unknowable in His essence, God wholly reveals Himself in His energies, which yet in no way divide His nature into two parts--knowable and unknowable--but signify two different modes of the divine existence, in the essence and outside of the essence.

2. This doctrine makes it possible to understand how the Trinity can remain incommunicable in essence and at the same time come and dwell within us, according to the promise of Christ (John xiv, 23). The presence is not a causal one, such as the divine omnipresence in creation; no more is it a presence according to the very essence--which is by definition incommunicable; it is a mode according to which the Trinity dwells in us by means of that in itself which is communicable--that is to say, by the energies which are common to the three hypostases, or, in other words, by grace--for it is by this name that we know the deifying energies which the Holy Spirit communicates to us. He who has the Spirit, who confers the gift, has at the same time the Son, through whom every gift is transmitted to us; he also has the Father, from whom comes every perfect gift. In receiving the gift--the deifying energies--one receives at the same time the indwelling of the Holy Trinity--inseparable from its natural energies and present in them in a different manner but none the less truly from that in which it is present in its nature.
3. The distinction between the essences and the energies, which is fundamental for the Orthodox doctrine of grace, makes it possible to preserve the real meaning of St. Peter's words 'partakers of the divine nature.' The union to which we are called is neither hypostatic--as in the case of the human nature of Christ--nor substantial, as in that of the three divine Persons: it is union with God in His energies, or union by grace making us participate in the divine nature, without our essence becoming thereby the essence of God. In deification we are by grace (that is to say, in the divine energies) all that God is by nature, save only identity of nature . . ., according to the teaching of St. Maximus (De ambiguis). We remain creatures while becoming God by grace, as Christ remained God in becoming man by the Incarnation.

These distinctions in God which are made by the theology of the Eastern Church do not in any way contradict its apophatic attitude in regard to revealed truth. On the contrary, these antinomical distinctions are dictated by a concern for safeguarding the mystery, while yet expressing the data of revelation in dogma. Thus, as we have seen in the doctrine of the Trinity, the distinction between the persons and the nature revealed a tendency to represent God as a 'monad and triad in one', with the consequence that the domination of the unity of the nature over the trinity of the hypostases was avoided, as was the elimination or minimizing of the primordial mystery of the identity-diversity. In the same way, the distinction between the essence and the energies is due to the antinomy between the unknowable and the knowable, the incommunicable and the communicable, with which both religious thought and the experience of divine things are ultimately faced. These real distinctions introduce no 'composition' into the divine being; they signify the mystery of God, who is absolutely one according to His nature, absolutely three according to His persons, sovereign and inaccessible Trinity, dwelling in the profusion of glory which is His uncreated light, His eternal Kingdom which all must enter who inherit the deified state of the age to come”[1].

Friday, October 24, 2014

Orthodox Church of the Holy Belt of the Virgin Mary and St. Spyridon, Athens

In every area of Athens one finds large and small churches; prominent and hidden ones. The Orthodox Church of the Holy Belt (Hagia Zoni) of the Virgin Mary and St. Spyridon is a small, discreet and old Church, to be found in Plaka, near the Acropolis.

The Church was built in the 16th-17th century, being originally a big basilica. However, it was rebuilt into a smaller building. It is believed that that specific spot was a holy place dedicated to the ancient Greek God Dionysius.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Legend of St Eustace

This wall painting, found within Canterbury Cathedral dates from around 1480. It was uncovered in 1830 when lime wash was removed from the wall of the north aisle of the choir.  It shows the story of St Eustace, a legendary Christian martyr who lived in the second century AD.  The setting is a series of wooded landscapes with details of ships, hamlets, churches, castles, monkeys, and a river meandering to the sea.  The story starts at the bottom, with Eustace on his knees before his quarry, a white stag, between whose horns can be seen an image of Christ.  It ends with Eustace and his family roasted to death in a large bull placed over a fire.
According to legend, the Roman general Placidus was out hunting a stag when an image of Jesus on the cross appeared between the animal's antlers, inspiring him to convert to Christianity and adopt the name Eustace. He was tested for his faith by a series of misfortunes, and was later burned alive inside a bronze bull. Though his historical existence is doubtful, he was a popular saint throughout the Middle Ages.

‘Excerpt from The Golden Legend
So on a day, as he was on hunting, he found an herd of harts, among whom he saw one more fair and greater than the other, which departed from the company and sprang into the thickest of the forest. And the other knights ran after the other harts, but Placidus siewed him with all his might, and enforced to take him. And when the hart saw that he followed with all his power, at the last he went up on a high rock, and Placidus approaching nigh ... And as he beheld and considered the hart diligently, he saw between his horns the form of the holy cross shining more clear than the sun, and the image of Christ, which by the mouth of the hart, like as sometime Balaam by the ass, sp[o]ke to him, saying: Placidus, wherefore followest me hither? I am appeared to thee in this beast for the grace of thee. I am Jesus Christ, [and] I come hither so that by this hart that thou huntest I may hunt thee. ... I am Jesus Christ that formed heaven and earth, which made the light to increase, and divided it from darkness, and established time, days, and hours. Which formed men of the slime of the earth, which appeared on earth in flesh for the health of the lineage human, which was crucified, dead, buried, and arose the third day.
And when Placidus heard this, he fell down again to the earth, and said: I believe, Lord, that thou art he that made all things, and convertest them that err. And our Lord said to him: If thou believest, go to the bishop of the city and do thee be baptized. ... And when he was come home to his house, and had told this thing to his wife in their bed, she cried: My Lord! and said: And I saw him this night that is passed, and he said to me: Tomor[row] thou, thy husband, and thy sons, shall come to me. And now I know that it was Christ. Then they went to the bishop of Rome at midnight, which baptized them with great joy, and named Placidus, Eustace, and his wife, Theospis.’[1]

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Old Fortress, Corfu

The Old Fortress’s history dates back to the mid-6th century AD, when the ancient city of Corfu on the Kanoni Peninsula (Chersoupolis, modern-day Paliopolis) was destroyed in barbarian incursions. It was then that its inhabitants began gradually moving to the naturally-fortified peninsula of the Old Fortress with its two peaks, where the Byzantine city, Koryfo (from which the island took its name Corfou/Corfu) developed. The Byzantines and later the Angevins (1267-1386) walled the peninsula and built towers on both its peaks. The settlement west of the peninsula, the “Xopoli” (outer city) or Borgo, began to grow at the same time as Koryfo at approcimately the site of the modern city.

The current form of the Old Fortress’s fortifications is mostly owed to the defensive works done during the period of Venetian rule (1386-1797). The Venetians took care to secure possession of Corfu due to its strategic and commercial importance. This was why they modernised the Fortress’s defensive works in order to withstand Ottoman attacks. The form these works assumed was dictated by the new developments brought about by the introduction of heavy artillery into the art of war. Initially the peninsula was separated from the island itself through construction of a sea moat, the so-called contrafossa. For defensive reasons, a zone that remained unbuilt was simultaneously created between the Fortress and “Xopoli” (spianata, the modern Spianada).

Following the destructive Turkish siege of 1537, the Venetians once again modernised Koryfo’s fortifications. The great Veronese architect Michele Sanmicheli and his nephew Gian Gerolamo Sanmicheli gave the fort its characteristic from in accordance with the principals of the bastion system (fronte basionato). Their major projects included the front of the Spianada with two pentagonal bastions, the intervening wall, and the entrance which opens in the centre of the wall. The land connection was achieved by a movable bridge. A short time later (second half of the 16th century), Cape Kavosidero at the northeast end of the peninsula was also walled. When the capital was transferred to the “Xopoli” in the late 16th century, Koryfo remained primarily a military base.

During the period of English rile (1814-1864), large-scale interventions were made at the site of the Old Fortress with the construction of new buildings, chiefly military in character. During World War II, bombing destroyed important Venetian buildings such as the palace of the Provveditore (Governor) and the Pasqualigo’s Barracks.

Today the Old Fortress, the New Fortress, the Old City of Corfu together with the rest of the fortifications of the city are UNESCO World Heritage Monuments. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Public Lecture by His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatius, "The Greek Orthodox Church and the Economic Crisis"

A public lecture will be given by His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatius, who will speak on "The Greek Orthodox Church and the Economic Crisis". The event will take place on Wednesday 12 November, 18.30 at the London School of Economics.

As historically a central pole of national identity, and with a new politics of nationalism evident, the way in which the Greek Orthodox Church is impacted by Greece’s economic crisis and how it responds to it, is of major importance to the nation’s public and social affairs. The Bishop has a strong record of connecting the Church to contemporary social issues and of opening up to other faiths. This lecture will address the challenges posed by the crisis.

This event is free and open to all and no ticket is required. Entry is on a first come-first served basis. If you would like to request a press sear or have a media query about this event, email

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pontian Society of England - Dinner

The Pontian Society of England organised its first official event on the 19th October 2014 at the Greek restaurant Alexander the Great, Camden Town. We had the honour and pleasure to have with us the Consul of Greece, Mr. Sotirios Demestichas. The event was a success, bringing together not only Pontian Greeks but also Greeks from all over Greece and Cyprus. For more information on the Pontian Society of England and any future events, please visit the Facebook page entitled: ΣΥΛΛΟΓΟΣ ΠΟΝΤΙΩΝ ΑΓΓΛΙΑΣ (PONTIAN SOCIETY OF ENGLAND).