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Hidden Treasures: St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.mysuncoast.com/news/manatee_newsroom/hidden-treasures-st-barbara-greek-orthodox-church/article_9854a338-6f39-11e2-9069-001a4bcf6878.html Hidden
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6 11:06 AM
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      Hidden Treasures: St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church

      Posted: Monday, February 4, 2013 9:13 pm | Updated: 12:12 am, Tue Feb 5,
      2013.
      Linda Carson

      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
      Gardner.

      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
      crafts.
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