Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Anglican Church in Athens

Αγγλικανικός Ναός στην Αθήνα

Στην καρδιά της Αθήνας μας, στην Οδό Φιλελλήνων, βρίσκεται ο κομψός Αγγλικανικός Ναός του Αγ. Παύλου. Είναι ένας ιστορικός Ναός, που οικοδομήθηκε στα 1830. Αξίζει οπωσδήποτε να δούμε αναλυτικώτερα την ιστορία του:

St. Paul's is an early Victorian Gothic church designed by the eminent Danish architect Christian Hansen (1803-1833). It is one of a collection of Athenian buildings for which he was responsible, the most important being the impressive University building in Panepistemiou Street.

Dr. J. H. Hill of the Episcopal Church (USA), who established the "Hill School for Girls," which still exists, and the Rev. H. D. Leeves, who was Chaplain to the British Legation in Athens, galvanized the English-speaking community in the late 1830s to raise finances for the construction of St. Paul's. St. Paul's was consecrated on Palm Sunday in 1843, and is one of the earliest churches of the foreign community in Athens. St. Paul's has been a significant focus for the English-speaking community in Athens and beyond. For 170 years it has provided continuous Christian worship and pastoral care.

Its stained-glass windows, furnishings and plaques commemorate significant personalities within that community. The windows in the north and south transepts are dedicated to the memory of General Richard Church, who was appointed in 1827 to command the Greek military forces fighting in the War of Independence from the Turks. The scenes depicted in these windows are from the stories of the Israelites entering the Promised Land, and as such provide an extraordinary celebration of Greece's struggle to re-enter its own Promised Land.

As a devout Anglican, Richard Church adopted Greek citizenship and became a senator within the Greek Parliament. St. Paul's also possesses registers of baptism and marriages providing a fascinating window on the life of the English-speaking community in Greece. Hung within its chancel are the flags of the Allied Forces who assisted in the liberation of Greece in the Second World War.

Today, St Paul's is the focus of a ministry that is spread throughout mainland Greece and the islands.

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