On Tuesday evening, our parish took a trip to Veria to venerate the relics of St. Luke the Surgeon and participate in a Paraklesis service to him. We must have had about 70 people from the parish go on the trip to the Monastery of Panagia Dobra in Veria, which is about an hour west of Thessaloniki. Interestingly, the name of the monastery is a derivation from the many Slavic-speaking people who once lived in the area -- Dobra meaning "Good."
The monastery is building a very large new church dedicated to the saint, as you can see in the photo above. Currently, they have set up a temporary church in the basement while the rest of the church is completed. The current bishop of Simferopol (in modern-day Ukraine) sent a large piece of the saint's relics to the metropolitan of Veria when he heard of their project to honor the saint.
The monastery does the Paraklesis to the saint, with Vespers, every Tuesday night, with Metropolitan of Veria, Panteleimon, often presiding, as he did this time. In the photo above, you can see the Metropolitan presiding from his throne while Fr. Alexis and Fr. Panayiotis help read all the names to be commemorated at the Paraklesis.
During the service, the Metropolitan anointed the priests with oil from the lamp that hangs over the saint's relics, and then the abbot of the monastery anointed the rest of the faithful.
Here you can see the Metropolitan at the Holy Table just before the dismissal.
The saint's relic.
St. Paul himself founded the church in Veria (called Berea or similar spelling usually in the New Testament. See Acts 17:10-15.
An icon of St. Luke at the entrance to the church.
People leaving the basement church at the end of the service, which was about two hours of beautiful chanting.
Afterwards, our group went into the city of Veria to sample some of the famous Veria revani dessert.
For a few more photos, click here.