On your right now (13) are St. Photios the
patron of each Church is always depicted in this
spot and again, the mother of God and the
'T the left (14) is depicted The Baptism of Jesus
Christ. Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan by
St. John the Forerunner.
Directly ahead (15) is the Crucifixion, with Mary
and John, the beloved disciple, looking on. The
lettering at the top of the cross says "Jesus of
Nazareth, King of the Jews."
As you leave this area and cross under the
central dome into the area to the right of the
altar, you pass through the arch (16) with St.
Andrew, the first-called apostle, and St. Anthony,
the founder of Orthodox monasticism. In the
medallion you see St. Irene Chrysovalantou, a
saint of the last century.
The dome (17) in this area depicts the
Archangel Midhael. Tb the left (18) are Jesus Christ
and St. John the Forerunner, whose scroll reads:
"Behold, the lamb of God, who lifts the sins of the
lb the right (19) is The Nativity. The Virgin Mary
and Jesus are in the center in the cave where the
animals were kept. Joseph, in the lower left-hand
corner, while contemplating the miracle of Jesus'
birth, is tempted by the devil (personified by an
old man). In the lower right-hand corner, mid-
wives wash the newborn babe, while up above,
the angels proclaim the good news to the
Straight ahead is the glorious fresco(20) of The
Resurrection. Christ is seen trampling the gates
of hell and freeing Adam and Eve and other holy
persons from Old Testament times from the
bonds which held them unjustly enslaved.
Not visible is the sacristy and the vesting area,
located to the right of the altar. In this area, the
priest vests himself and prepares the elements
(bread and wine) on the Table of Oblation for Holy
Communion. In the arched area over this table is
the fresco traditionally depicted here, The Nativity
(smaller, but identical to the same fresco in the
Benefactors of the Chapel:
(1) The Parish of St. John the Divine, Jacksonville, FL;
(2) United Hellenic American Congress;
(3) Thomas and Zoe Cavalaris, Charlotte, NC;
(7) Gus Mitrofanis Anthopoulos Flohita, ltrkey
(10) The National Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society;
(16) The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle;
(19) The Diocese of Atlanta.
Saint Photios the Great was Patriarch of Constan-
tinople during the middle of the ninth century.
Together with the other great Fathers of the Church,
Saint Photios demonstrates through his writing and
his teaching that scholarship can be a valuable
instrument in proclaiming and expressing the Faith
of the Church. The Orthodox Church honors Saint
Photios as a theologian, a supporter of missionary
activity, and a defender of the Faith. One of his most
notable contributions was the sending of Saints Cyril
and Methodios as missionaries to the Slavic peoples,
which led to their conversion to Orthodox Christi-
The National Greek Orthodox Shrine
41 St. George Street
St. Augustine, Florida
Iconographers George and John Filippakis
The St. Photios Chapel
All the icons (religious paintings) you see
in the chapel have been executed in the
traditional Byzantine style which
expresses visually the theology of the
Greek Orthodox Church. The music you
hear is the traditional Byzantine chant
used in Greek Orthodox churches
throughout the world.
The inscriptions on the icons are in
Greek. The verse over the entranceway
says "Come, whoever is thirsty; accept
the water of life as a gift, whoever wants
it." Rev. 22:17. Holding the scroll on
which it is written are peacocks which
are used in Christian art as a symbol of
As you enter the chapel, you see
candles to the right and left. When an
Orthodox Christian enters his or her local
church, an offering is made and a candle
is lit, bringing to remembrance the words
of Jesus Christ, "I am the Light of the
World." Then the believer will kiss the
icon which is available for that purpose.
In this case, the icon of St. Photios is to
the right, and the icon of Mary and the
Christ child is to the left. For the
Orthodox, this kiss is not an act of
worship, but of veneration of persons
who lived holy lives.
Most of the icons in this chapel have
been painted directly on its walls and
domes. Paintings done in this manner are
The fresco to your right (1) depicts St. Photios
teaching two young missionaries, Constantine and
Michael, whom he sent into Moravia to preach
the gospel of Christ. The work of these two men,
who took the names Cyril and Methodios when
ordained, resulted in the conversion of the Slavic
peoples to Christianity.
Tb the left (2), St. Photios is seen in the court of
the Byzantine Emperor Michael III. At this
moment, Photios has been called to become
Patriarch of Constantinople, the capital of the
Empire. A court aide stands by with the
Patriarch's mitre (crown).
In the dome (3) is depicted The Hospitality of
Abraham. Three angels sit at a table where they
have just been served by Abraham and Sarah.
These angels are interpreted as being symbolic of
the Holy Trinity.
As you pass through the archway (4), you notice
two of the early defenders of the Christian Faith,
St. George on the left column and St. Demetrios
on the right. In the medallion above is St.
In the central dome (5) is Christ the Pantocrator
(the all-embracing). Around the circle are written
words from the book of Rev. 1:8," 'I am the Alpha
and the Omega, the beginning and the end,' says
the Lord who embraces all, who is, who was, and
who is to come." In the four pendentives are the
Evangelists, the pillars of the Church, Matthew,
Mark, Luke and John.
On the arch (6) leading to the altar area are two
deacons. To the left is St. Stephen, the first
martyr of the Christian Church; to the right is St.
Romanos the Melodist, one of the best known
hymnographers of the Orthodox Church. In the
center of the arch is a dove, used in iconography
to symbolize the Holy Spirit. The fresco in the
dome (7) over the altar is entitled Christ in Glory.
In the icon (8) to the right are The Three
Hierarchs: St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John
the Chrysostom (golden-mouthed), and St. Basil
In the fresco (9) to the left are St. Spyridon the
Mbnderworker, St. Iakovos (James), called the
brother of the Lord, and St. Nektarios of Aegina, a
20th century saint.
The fresco (10) behind the altar is called Mother
of God More Spacious than the Heavens. Mary,
in Orthodox Christian piety and theology, is
referred to as the Mother of God, having given
birth to the second person of the Holy Trinity,
TUrning to the left, you pass through the arch
(11) with St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, and
St. Gerasimos of Cephalonia. St. Paraskeve is in
the medallion. In the dome (12) you see the