A New Home for Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene

A New Home for Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene

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Palm Harbor Greek Orthodox church destroyed in fire to rebuild 

PALM HARBOR, Fla.

Shovels will hit the ground in the rebuilding of St. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, the Greek Orthodox Church destroyed in an electrical fire over a year ago.

The groundbreaking ceremony, scheduled for February 1, will begin with a service by His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta and His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of Mytilini, Greece.

 

PlanningMeeting
The planned Byzantine-style church at 1010 Rivere Rd., will house the Holy Relics of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene; bone fragments that were left untouched in the massive blaze on September 23, 2014.

“The flames seem to have been held back by something- they shot upward instead of across the room, which would have gone to the altar area,” Marcia Koutroumanis said, a parishioner who helped pull charred icons from the wreckage.

 

Fire

 

According to Orthodox Christian tradition, Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene were martyred by Ottoman Turks on the island of Lesvos in 1463.

Their Holy Relics were brought to the small Palm Harbor parish in 2003, the only church in the country to receive this blessing.

“There have always been miracles, the saints are there, they’re alive,” Erine Koulianos said, a spokesperson for the church.

His Eminence with Holy Relics

His Eminence with Holy Relics

“People come from all over the country, we get emails from Ireland, all over the world, because we have the Holy Relics,” she said.

The new church will seat 200 people, and comes with a $1.4 million price tag.

Parishioners have raised $700,000 since the fire, and continue their Sunday services inside a shopping plaza on US 19.

“I hope that the saints become well known to everyone who doesn’t know about them because they’re very special saints,” said Koutroumanis.

“They’re known for many miraculous things.  We want to welcome everyone from all over to come and venerate the saints,” she said.

 

 

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Kristin Giannas

Kristin (Xrisanthi) Giannas is a journalist and weather anchor based out of Tampa, Florida. Kristin has covered breaking news stories and delivered weather forecasts at Orlando's CBS affiliate, WKMG. A graduate of the University of Florida, she is currently continuing her studies through Mississippi State's Broadcast Meteorology program.