In an effort to maintain the traditions and customs of the first Greek settlers that arrived on the American continent, St. Photios National Shrine in St. Augustine, Florida hosted its first-ever Vasilopita Cutting with a standing room only crowd of almost 100 people.
The event, hosted by Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Hierarchal Proistamenos of the Shrine, attracted guests from throughout the region and the nation.
“Events like these are important to share the mission of the Shrine, as well as to keep our ancient faith and traditions alive in thIs country and keep Greek Orthodox traditions as a living experience,” said Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos.
The Vasilopita cutting was preceded by a tour of the historic center of old St. Augustine. Guests then arrived to a harpist and choir with enchanting musical arrangements of traditional Greek and Byzantine hymns and carols.
Eight loaves of Vasilopita were cut, first for all of the area Greek Orthodox ministries and parishes, then for each guest in attendance. The lucky winners received an authentic St. Basil coin and were blessed by Bishop Demetrios.
Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta sent a greeting which was read to the guests in attendance, thanking Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos for, “carrying on the beautiful Hellenic Orthodox tradition of the Vasilopita” and keeping the light of the recent holiday season in our hearts.”
St. Photios National Shrine is an institution of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America that honored the legacy of the first Greek settlers who arrived on the American continent in the 1700s as indentured servants.
Originally part of the New Smyrna colony, several dozen Greeks escaped the colony and ventured to St. Augustine where they were given refuge in the Avero House, the current location of the Shrine.
Bishop Demetrios was appointed by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America to support the mission of the Shrine and expand its reach by creating new programming and sharing its story to a broader community.
One such project will be the launching of a Spanish-language outreach on behalf of the Greek Orthodox Church, which will begin with a conference that will be hosted at the Shrine.
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