Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Shrine of St. Amphibalus

The Cathedral of St. Albans contains two important shrines, St. Albans shrine and the shrine of St Amphibalus. The latter was an early Christian Evangelist, a fugitive from Roman persecution, who converted Alban to Christianity in the middle of the 3rd century.

This shrine pedestal of Totternhoe stone was the gift of the sacrist Ralph Witechurch whose initials can be seen in the fretwork patterns around the base. Traces of the original colouring remain at the top. Unfortunately, at the dissolution, the relics were destroyed and the pedestal smashed. The broken pieces of the pedestal were used as builders’ rubble and only recovered and reassembled in 1872 under the direction of Sir George Gilbert Scott.

It is a great shame that the relics were destroyed; nevertheless, we should be reminded, by the existence of this shrine, of the importance of people such as Amphibalus, who supported, promoted and died for their faith. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

The multiplicity of tongues

This post was inspired after a talk I had with Fr. William Taylor, Chairman of the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association. The theological conversation was based on why God allowed for the birth of all the languages in the world. Could we have only one language?
The answer is a complex one. The birth of all the languages is to be found in Genesis 11: 1-9, where we read: ‘And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face to the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth’.

However, during Pentecost we see the reverse of the above. The gift of unity is given by the Holy Spirit, where we read, ‘They were all in one accord in one place’ (Acts 2:1). Therefore, during Pentecost we chant the following hymn: ‘When the Most High came down and confused the tongues, He divided the nations; But when he distributed tongues of fire, He called all to unity. Therefore with one voice we glorify the All –Holy Spirit.
Metropolitan Kallistos explains, in regards to this important subject, that “The Spirit brings unity and mutual comprehension, enabling us to speak ‘with one voice’. He transforms individuals into persons. Of the first Christian community at Jerusalem, in the period immediately following Pentecost, it is stated that they ‘had all things in common’ and were ‘united in heart and soul (Acts 2:44, 4:32); and this should be the mark of the Pentecostal community of the Church in every age…Not only does the Holy Spirit make us all one, but he makes us each different. At Pentecost the multiplicity of tongues was not abolished, but it ceased to be a cause of separation; each spoke as before in his own tongue, but by the power of the Spirit each could understand the others”[1].
Interpretation is key here. We understand the existence of multiple languages, which could divide people. However, we can also perceive that all the languages together can better explain the mystery of our existence, explain theology and maybe God, in a better manner, than could be achieved with only one language. Despite having a multiplicity of tongues, we can identify the fact that the Holy Spirit does unite all faithful, within the body of the Church.

[1]Ware, Kallistos, The Orthodox Way, (New York, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995), p. 95

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Testament Greek at the University of Winchester

The University of Winchester is introducing a new course, New Testament Greek. This online course was created initially for the postgraduate students in Orthodox Studies of the University of Winchester after the proposals and the support of Rev'd  Dr Andreas Andreopoulos. However, it will be available for any other students or individuals, who are studying Theology, Classics or are interested to study the Hellenistic Dialect (Koine Greek), in order to have a direct access to the original texts of the New Testament, manuscripts and the writings of the Holy Fathers. This module will be delivered through weekly online seminars, tutorials, tasks, translation and exegesis.
The link for this online course is:
This module gives an introduction to New Testament Greek, one of the original languages in which the Bible was written.  It equips students to look critically at the original language of the New Testament instead of being dependent solely on translations into English. The module will introduce students to New Testament Greek and explain how to recognise Greek words and constructions in the New Testament. Finally, it will provide the keys on how to translate Greek words and New Testament passages and begin to develop the skills to translate passages of New Testament Greek into English.

The module will be delivered through weekly online seminars, tutorials, tasks, translation and exegesis. Students have to complete, and submit for evaluation weekly assignments. These assignments will not be marked; students will receive only feedback and comments for their assignments.

By the end of this module, it is expected that students will be able to show an understanding of New Testament Greek words and meanings, use an Interlinear Greek New Testament to assist in the interpretation of the Scripture, demonstrate knowledge of the basic vocabulary of New Testament Greek, show a working understanding of Greek grammar and syntax, read and translate the New Testament from Greek into English and finally, read and understand both Erasmian Greek and Modern Koine Greek which is currently used by the Greek Orthodox Church in worship.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Book Review: The Cross – Meditations and Images

This new book, The Cross – Meditations and Images, is an interesting source of many images of the cross, making it a unique experience for both the believer and the non-believer reader. The cross is undoubtedly one of the most famous religious symbols worldwide, being an inspiration for millions.

Serena Fass has compiled a collection of many important and beautiful representations of the Cross. Spanning different strands of the Christian faith from the earliest Christians in Pompeii to the present day, and criss-crossing the globe from Norway to Zimbabwe and Peru to Australia. Works are illustrated in a variety of media including architecture, painting, sculpture, ivories, textiles, metalwork, jewellery, as well as examples of the cross manifest in nature. Serena has tried to convey the wide variety of cultural representations that illustrate Jesus’ great commission to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15).
Many authors have contributed towards the completion of this book, from all around the Christian World. Some prominent examples are, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, Fr. William Taylor, Fr. George Florovski and many more. Also a number of Church Fathers are used, including Gregory the Great, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ignatius of Antioch, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom and many more. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

St Clement’s Church, London

St Clement’s Church is a welcoming, diverse and growing parish of the Diocese of London in the Church of England. As Christians the people of St Clement's seek to share the experience of God’s life and love revealed to mankind through Jesus Christ. St Clement’s is very much a neighbourhood church. The church is deeply involved in the life of the wider neighbourhood, with links to many local organisations, formal and informal.

St Clement’s Church, consecrated originally to St Barnabas, was designed to be a “chapel of ease” (an extra place of worship for those in a parish to far from the parish church, or for extra space if the parish church was too small). Certainly the area was becoming a populous place. The orchards that covered the area in the 18th century were, by the 1820s, giving way to smart new developments on the city fringe, including King Square (named after the newly-crowned King George IV). 
The government had set aside a fund of £1 million “for building new churches in populous places”, in thanksgiving for victory over the French in the Napoleonic Wars. And St Luke’s parish was chosen to be the site of one of these so-called “Waterloo” churches. However, in those days, both church and local government were run by the churchwardens and local “Vestry”, who didn’t have to be church people, merely residents of the parish. The vestry of St Luke’s, Old Street thus resisted the proposal believing that the new church would “impose on the inhabitants a needless and oppressive expense”, and that “no additional chapels are necessary”. Despite their protest the Church Building Commission went ahead and purchased the land in King Square.
Despite this opposition, the 27th January 1822 the foundation stone was laid, an event ignored by the Vestry of St Luke’s. Work on the building is said to have been done by French ex-prisoners-of-war and locals. The new church building was considered to be “for use and duration, rather than particular ornament”. Designed by Philip Hardwick, the architect of Euston Station, St Barnabas was built in the ancient Greek (Ionic) style, but with a spire attached. The windows on either side of the porch were originally glazed, but not the oblong recesses above them, as the illustration, from 1828, shows. There was no vestibule - the main doors led directly into the church, and the door on either side of the porch led into galleries which went around three sides of the building. Altogether it could hold 1,600 people!
It was very plain inside. There was a small temporary organ in the west gallery, and the altar was in a small semi-octagonal recess at the east end. Gas lighting was fitted in 1827, but on condition that no service started later than 3 pm.
St Barnabas was complete by July 1824, but had to wait two years for consecration by the Bishop. This delay was because St Luke’s was reluctant to recognise it as a parish chapel, or pay for it to be furnished and decorated. The consecration finally took place on the day after St Barnabas Day, 12th June 1826.

The Victorian era saw profound social changes in the area, the better off moving further out of town (to new suburbs such as Finsbury Park), to be replaced by the poor. The houses in the square were divided up, as they remained until their demolition at the start of the 1960s. In 1842 the church became a parish in its own right, with its own vicar.
As the population of the area soared in the mid-nineteenth century other churches were built in the area, including St Paul’s, Pear Tree Street (1865) and St Matthew’s (designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott with an enormous spire) on City Road (1849). The last was St Clement’s Church, Lever Street, designed by William Butterfield on a cramped site between Lever Street and Nelson Street. It was consecrated by Bishop W Walsham How on 6th October 1880, to serve some of the most difficult and needy streets of the district.
Sadly both St Clement's, Lever Street and St Matthew’s, City Road were destroyed by enemy bombs during the London Blitz. A rare relic from this time is a Service Register from St Clement’s, Lever Street, damaged but legible. Under the record for 7th September 1940 is written “Church destroyed 1.25am 8th September 1940 Register dug out of the rubble some weeks later.”

St Barnabas had also been slightly damaged by war time bombs, but was in any case effectively redundant. It had, in fact, been used as a store for ecclesiastical furniture from other buildings since the beginning of the conflict.
After the end of the war, the question was how to reorganise the church in this part of Finsbury, in view of the bombing and a much smaller local population. It was decided to unite the three parishes of St Clement, St Barnabas and St Matthew, and for St Clement’s (who were meeting in their temporary church hall) to come to St Barnabas.
In 1952 the three parishes were united, and work began on refitting the church in King Square. The interior was completely remodelled, including the pulpit, ceiling and new pillars, incorporating some of the ornaments of the old St Clement’s. A cross was placed at the top of the spire, in place of the original weathercock, and on 11th June 1954 the new altar was dedicated by the Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev’d J. W C. Wand. Finsbury had a new place of worship.
The church continues to play a role in the life of the local community and, even if they don’t come to worship very often, local residents still see St Clement’s as “their church”.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mehmet Aga Mosque, Rhodes

The Mehmet Aga Mosque is located on the first floor of a building in the Rhodes Old Town, on the Greek Island of Rhodes. Its oblique position, in comparison to Socratous St. (facing towards Mecca) led to the angular projection of the mosque which is supported by a column that can be seen in the middle of the street. The wooden minaret has a roofed balcony that ends up to a stoned stairway. The view is exceptional from the top. The exterior look of the building was based on the same architecture as the byzantine mansions built in the 18th century. It suffered severe damages in 1863 from earthquakes and was repaired in 1875. New repairs were made in 1948 after the 1944 bombings. These last repairs also altered the interior decorations. The last restorations took place in 2004.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


What does Amen mean? When we are in Church, the chanters and the people reply to the priest’s petitions with a number of phrases, including “Lord have mercy”, “To you o Lord”, “Grant this of Lord” and “Amen”. The latter is a Hebrew word. It has a number of meanings. Jesus Christ when beginning speaking He would say Amen Amen… in this case it means ‘verily’. On the other hand, when we say it at the end of a statement it means ‘let it be so’. Therefore we have the conclusion of the previous statement. It verifies that what has been said is the truth and it is a belief we all have. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

British Auto Legends

Great Britain’s role in shaping the history of the motor car has been immense, with British marques pushing the boundaries of artistry and innovation throughout the 20th century and on into the next. The Jaguar E-Type married dizzying levels of beauty and performance, while the magnificent Aston Martin DB5 became a motoring icon embedded in popular culture, following its memorable appearance in the 1964 James Bond film ‘Goldfinger’.

British marques are among the most coveted in the world, Rolls-Royce in particular having become a byword for excellence. With the arrival of the Silver Shadow in the mid 1960s, the brand entered the realm of mass production but without sacrificing quality or that all-important sense of grandeur. Similarly, Morgan has continued to employ time-honoured coach building methods to create cars that attract a loyal following. Equally popular is Lotus, which was founded by engineering genius Colin Chapman, who, after changing the landscape in Formula One racing during the 1960s, took on the Continental supercar elite with the Esprit in the 1970s.

Of all the illustrious British marques, few have come to define their niche so completely as MG, nor enjoyed such enduring popularity as the MGB. Stylish, of the moment and affordable, on its introduction in 1962 demand outstripped supply and it soon became the world’s best-selling roadster. In many ways, it echoed the success of sister brands that existed under the British Motor Corporation umbrella. The Morris Minor, for example, became the UK’s first million-selling automobile, the emergence of van and pick-up variants proving a boon to business large and small. Similarly, the off-road ability of the original Land Rover guaranteed approval with private and commercial operators alike. It became a design classic, as recognisable as the iconic Austin FX4 ‘black cab’ with which it once shared an engine. Ford also has a rich tradition of success in the UK, the Anglia proving itself an economical and reliable police car in the 1960s.   

Friday, August 23, 2013

Meet the world in Greece

Greece is mostly known for its ancient history, the countless beautiful islands, its beaches, sun, food and athletics. However, in Greece one can find many features from all around the world. Aris Kalogeropoulos began a photo-project depicting that anyone can meet the world in Greece. The Mediterranean country is versatile, beautiful and magical. It is undoubtedly a country worth discovering!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What if money was no object..?

What would we do if money was no object? All of us, at one point in our lives, need to decide what we wish to do, what we dream will make us happy. Can we choose a profession that makes us unhappy, but pays the bills? Should we choose to work at a place which makes us sad and nervous? Although not everyone achieves to do what they truly want, it is wise to at least try and achieve our goals, try to find a job which inspires us. Without this inspiration we are unable to create and better not only our selves but society in general. Therefore the question is 'how would we really enjoy spending our time...if money were no object?' If we find the answer to this question, then (I believe) we will be happy, creative, and good at what we do..! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

To breath in the face…

“God formed man, dust from the earth, and he breathed in his face a breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2.7).

Christos Yannaras, in his book Elements of Faith, explains the importance of breathing in ones face, stating: “To breath in the face of someone else was always for the Hebrews (and for the Semitic peoples generally) an act of the deepest symbolism: it means that you transmit to the other your breath, something very inwardly yours, your own self-consciousness or your spirit. This is so since breathing is a presupposition of life, the element which constitutes you as an active being, and all the experiences – fear, angry, joy, pride – all influence breathing, they show a relationship of breathing with your deepest being, your own self. When, then, the Scripture says that God blew his own breath in the earthly face of man, this image is to demonstrate the communication to man of certain marks of the very existence of God. In biblical language the result of this communication is that man becomes a living soul”. (p. 54-55).

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Royal Mail First Day Cover – 1st Class Sporting Success

The Royal Mail is honouring Andy Murray, who on Sunday 7th July 2013 beat the World Number One, Novak Djokovic in the Gentlemen’s Singles Lawn Tennis Final at Wimbledon, becoming the first British male to win the tournament since Fred Perry in 1936. It was an emotional event for all Brits, while reminding everyone of the glories of the Olympics in London, a year before.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Indian Gateway, Brighton

Walking around Brighton, the visitor comes across a fabulous, large, eastern building, the Royal Pavilion. However, behind this extraordinary (for the West) building, there is a gateway with a history. The gateway below is the gift of India, in commemoration of her sons who – stricken in the Great War – were tended in the Pavilion in 1914 and 1915. It is dedicated to the use of the inhabitants of Brighton by H.H. the Maharaja of Patiala on October 26th 1921 B.N. Southall, Mayor. It is this another paradigm of the good relations of different peoples from all around the world, especially during difficult periods, such as World War I. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Love for God

Can we truly love God? What is our relationship with the Creator? According to St. Dionysius the Areopagite ‘Love for God is ecstatic, making us go out from ourselves: it does not allow the lover to belong any more to himself, but he belongs only to the Beloved’. Therefore, the important feature within our relationship with God is the fact that we do not only love Him, but that God loves us too. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Olives and Olive Oil in Ancient Greece

Aristotle described the cultivation of the olive as a science. Plato taught under the shadow of an olive tree. Hippocrates used oil as a medicine for at least 60 illnesses and diseases, including gynaecological problems, wounds, burns etc. The Athenians gave a certain importance to the cultivation of olives since the 6th century BC, when Solon drafted the first laws referring to the protection of the trees, providing stringent punishments to those who tried to cut them.   At the time of Solon, oil was the only product that could be exported from Athens in order to buy wheat from the Black Sea. However, it was not widely used, during his time; it was mainly used for religious purposes. However, after the 6th century the production of olives and olive oil grew. Athens was the centre of production of olives and olive oil. Olive oil was also used during the ancient games, mainly the Olympics and the Panathinaia, i.e. the games dedicated to the patron Goddess of Athens, Athena. The winners used to receive tons of olive oil, making them wealthy people within the society of Athens.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Memorial, Brighton

It’s always interesting to see how each country, city and community remembers its soldiers and those who died fighting for their country. This memorial, below, commemorates those who died serving their country, located in a central park in Brighton, South England. In the centre of this monument the areas and countries of the battles are listed, showing how England has fought all around the world. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary

August is the month dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The Dormition is also known as the Pascha of the summer, emphasising the importance of this Feast, whilst also showing the unique relationship between Jesus Christi and His mother, Mary.
After the Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ, we read in the Book of Acts that Panagia was present, with the Apostles, on the day of Pentecost, i.e. the birth of the Church. The Tradition of the Church claims that the Virgin Mary stayed in Apostle John’s house, in Jerusalem, continuing here ministry together with the Apostles and the communion of believers.

(Epitafios from All Saints Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Camden Town, North London)

At the time of her death, the disciples of our Lord who were preaching throughout the world returned to Jerusalem to see the Theotokos. Except for the Apostle Thomas, all of them including the Apostle Paul were gathered together at her bedside. At the moment of her death, Jesus Christ himself descended and carried her soul into heaven. This is also depicted in the icon of the Dormition.

Following her repose, the body of the Theotokos was taken in procession and laid in a tomb near the Garden of Gethsemane. When Thomas arrived three days after her repose and desired to see her body, the tomb was empty. The bodily Assumption of the Theotokos was confirmed by the message of an angel and by her appearance to the Apostles.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Mother of God

“To be Mother of God, then, the Virgin Mary identified in her existence the life of the created with the life of the uncreated; she united in her own life the creation with its creator. And so every creature, the entire creation of God, finds in her person the gate of “true life”, the entrance to the fullness of the existential possibilities. “In her all creation rejoices, the company of angels and the race of men”. In the language of the Church’s poetry, every image which includes nature is ascribed to our Lady, in order to exhibit exactly the entire renewal of the created which was accomplished in her person. She is “heaven” and “fertile earth” and “unhewn mountain” and “rock giving drink to those who thirst for life” and “flourishing womb” and “field bringing forth atonement”. And the inmitable “semantics” of orthodox iconography translates the figurative statement of these images at one time in outline and at another in colour. 

It represents the Theotokos and throne of divinity, either as holding a child or praying, or sweetly kissing the Child, or “reclining” at the Nativity of Christ or at her own falling asleep. She is the new Eve who recapitulates nature, not in that autonomy contrary to nature and in death, but in that participation in the Divinity which transcends nature and in the realization of eternal life. Because her own will restores the existential “end” and purpose of creation generally, she gives meaning and hope to the “eager longing of creation”. When the faithful seek the intercession of the Theotokos for their salvation, they are not seeking some kind of juridical mediation, but that their own ineffective will be contained within her own lifegiving will, her will which affirms the saving love of the incarnate God”[1].  

[1] Yannaras, Christos, Elements of Faith, (Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1991), p.100-101

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Holy Church of Panagia Evaggelistria of Tinos

The Holy Church of Panagia Evaggelistria of Tinos is one of the most famous churches in Greece. It was built on the site where the Icon of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary was miraculously discovered after the Nun Pelagia had a vision. The faithful believe that the Icon performs miracles. There are inspiring stories of the redeeming intervention of the Virgin Mary which people have been fortunate enough to experience after dedicating fervent prayers to Her during difficult times in their lives.

The history of the Holy pilgrimage and the history of the Modern Greek state run parallel. The discovery of the Icon in 1923 was considered a divine omen for the justice and the success of the revolution against the Turkish occupation, while the erection of the grand church was the first large architectural project of the newly established Greek state.

Throughout the year pilgrims gather from all over the Orthodox World in order to pay respect to the Holy Icon, kept in this church and which is studded with diamonds, sapphires and pearls – offerings given by emperors, kings and the faithful Christians.

Especially in August, the whole island is swamped by pilgrims who have come to pray in Her church or in fulfillment of a vow. As Our lady’s feast day, 15 August, approaches, the church and island of Tinos become crammed with people. Religious services take place next to the commercial fair being held in the surrounding streets. The Church stands imposingly, high up at the end of the main road. It is built of white marble and is ringed by a number of ancillary buildings.