Hidden Treasures: St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church
Posted: Monday, February 4, 2013 9:13 pm | Updated: 12:12 am, Tue Feb 5,
MANATEE COUNTY - There are many hidden treasures here on the Suncoast;
amazing sights of beauty we may sometimes miss entirely unless someone
points them out for us – like St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church on
Lockwood Ridge Road at Tallevast Road.
Experts say the Greek Orthodox church in Tarpon Springs may be more
historic than St. Barbara, but St. Barbara is by far the most beautiful
around. It'll be open for public tours this weekend.
Outside St. Barbara doesn't look unusual. But step inside, and look up.
Every Greek Orthodox church has a dome. "In the main dome of the church
you always have Jesus Christ represented. You don't have to look up, you
know Christ is watching over us," says Rev. Father John Bociu.
This dome is spectacular and huge. Jesus' face is more than 6 feet tall.
Every Greek Orthodox church also has icons...sacred depictions of holy
figures. Those at St. Barbara are special. The icon of the Virgin Mary
is a mosaic made of tiny pieces of colored stone.
You'll also see a lot of gold there. "In using the gold we want to
represent the richness of the kingdom of God."
375 families make up the congregation. The first Greek settlers came to
Sarasota at the end of the 19th century from Tarpon Springs, and the
Rev. Father says to preserve their way of life and their heritage, they
established St. Barbara in 1976.
Parishioners say the life of their community revolves around this
church. "It’s integrated into the way we're brought up…the culture, the
customs, the language, the religions...it’s all part of us," says Paree
Some members of the congregation immigrated here from Greece, others are
2nd and 3rd generation, some are new -- like Constantine Kontonickas and
his wife, who chose to move here because of this church. "The church is
both a cultural and spiritual anchor in both our lives, and probably if
this church had not been here we would have sought out another town that
had a Greek Orthodox church in it."
There will be tours of the church during the Greek Glendi Festival this
weekend. Don't miss this opportunity to see something truly beautiful.
The glendi also features authentic Greek food, dancing, games, arts and