Protocol No. 06/17

Feast of Saint Photios

Saint Photios National Shrine Day

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On our annual celebration of the Feast of Saint Photios the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople, and our recognition of the witness and ministry of the Saint Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine in St. Augustine, Florida, we are blessed this year to observe the 35thanniversary of the dedication of the Shrine.  The dedication in February 1982 followed years of work and offerings of many Greek Orthodox faithful led by His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos.

The dedication, attended by the Hierarchs, clergy and laity from North and South America, was a tremendous event honoring the memory, struggles, and hopes of early Greek immigrants who arrived in Florida in 1768.  Following many hardships as indentured servants, those who survived settled in St. Augustine and gathered for worship and fellowship in the place known as the Avero House.

In 1966, this historic site was purchased through the efforts of many willing donors and transferred to the Archdiocese.  Efforts began to raise the resources needed to renovate the property and establish the Shrine and memorial, which culminated in the groundbreaking in 1978 and the dedication and opening of the Shrine in 1982.

Since that blessed day in the history of our Holy Archdiocese, the Saint Photios National Shrine has consistently offered a beautiful witness of our Orthodox faith and preserved the memory of our Greek heritage in this country.  The dedication in 1982 reopened the doors to a place where hundreds of thousands of visitors have seen the story of our forbearers and carried their memory with them.  The Shrine has been a place of worship where many have encountered the holiness of our faith and the presence of God.  Through the generosity of time and resources of many of our brothers and sisters in Christ, the Shrine has been a witness and support for the growth of our faith and the Church.

On this feast and anniversary, may we offer our prayers of gratitude for the leadership and service of Archbishop Iakovos and the many donors and benefactors who cherished their faith and heritage and labored to establish the Saint Photios Shrine.  May we follow their example and continue this vital support through our prayers and gifts.  As many of us will gather in St. Augustine for this celebration, may we remember the struggle and sacrifice of our ancestors, may we honor their memory through our support of the Shrine, and may we ask for God’s wisdom and grace as we share our beautiful inheritance with all the world for His glory and honor.

With paternal love in Him,


Archbishop of America

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