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Recently, the citizens of St. Augustine, Florida celebrated their 450th anniversary. Part of their celebrations included a memorial service for the Greek Orthodox. Faithful processed from St Photios shrine to the Tomalato Cemetery, to bless the graves of all of the St Augustinians buried there.
Fr. Nicholas Louh, from Walking in Faith, a sermon series on OCN, was present, along with clergy from the area.
“The grave blessing at Tolomato was actually part of a larger Orthodox memorial service, which had begun at St Photios Shrine with the prayers and hymns that are traditionally used in this service (which also form part of the funeral service). It concluded at Tolomato with the blessing and further hymns, and then with something that most non-Greeks were seeing for the first time: the serving of kolyva. This is a mixture of cooked wheat berries (whole grains of wheat), sesame seeds, nuts, raisins or other dried fruits, pomegranate seeds, sugar or honey and bitter spices. It is blessed and served in small cups after a memorial service and on similar occasions, since wheat represents the Resurrection and the symbolism of sweetness and bitterness is deeply rooted in religious imagery. It is a very ancient tradition, and appears not only in Greece and the Mediterranean traditions, but among all of the Slavic peoples as well.”
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