Wednesday, September 16, 2009

St. Demetrios and More with Gr. Joyce, Pres. Makrina, and Rebecca

Today we took a trip into Thessaloniki to visit some more places, especially St. Demetrios. We were fortunate when we were arrived to catch one of the priests, a friend of mine, who gave us several particularly nice swabs of myrrh from St. Demetrios. The photo above was taken in the crypt of St. Demetrios, inside the original small church to St. Demetrios built in the 4th century. At right is Rebecca Leslie, a parishioner of Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Yakima, WA, who is in Greece staying with some friends of ours and helping their family.

After visiting St. Demetrios, we walked down a block to the ancient Greek agora/Roman forum, which served as the nerve center of the city from the city's inception in 300 BC through at least the 5th century. St. Paul was certain to have spent time here.

After the agora, we took a break to have a coffee at this outdoor cafe with a view of St. Demetrios (in the background).

Having refreshed ourselves with cold coffee, we marched up the hill one block from St. Demetrios to see the Church of the Holy Prophet Elias (or Elijah), built in the 14th century.

Then we went on an adventure to find the tiny, hidden little church dedicated to St. David of Thessaloniki. We were blessed to stumble upon it, just as the caretaker was leaving. Even though it was long past closing time, she opened the church for us to see the famous 5th century fresco in the apse of Christ Pantocrator. Above Simeon is playing in the courtyard of what was once a monastery.

We next headed over to another former monastery, Vlatadon, which now serves a number of functions--housing for theology students and the seat of the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies.

In the photo above you can see the church built on the spot where St. Paul preached to the Thessalonians.

From Vlatadon, we walked around the walls of the city, which are still quite well preserved where we were in what is called the "Upper City." Above, we were just outside the walls to the city, looking at what, doubtless, many invading armies had seen over the centuries.

Finally, we walked down into the section of the city known as "St. Paul's," which has a wonderful view overlooking the city. We had lunch at a restaurant with a great view of the main church of St. Paul's and the park, which features the cave St. Paul slept in after he was forced to flee the city (see Acts 17:1-8).

Rebecca, meanwhile, was forced to try octopus, squid, and mussels. :)

For more photos, click here.

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