Monday, November 18, 2013

Chapel of St. Athanasius of Athos and St. Tryphon

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been fixing up the two side chapels here at our main church, and also trying to unravel the mystery as to when they were built and which saints, exactly, they are dedicated to. Above is the southern side chapel, dedicated to a St. Athanasius (more on that) and St. Tryphon.

This chapel is smaller than St. Anthony's on the northern side, thus making it less practical for winter-time liturgies. This is one of the factors that leads me to revise my earlier opinion that the St. Athanasius in question is the Great (Jan. 18). In fact, I now think that it was probably originally dedicated to St. Athanasius the Athonite (July 5) and St. Tryphon (Feb. 1). Recently, a friend of mine, an expert on iconography, told me she suspected the Athonite was the original saint, because many Athonite monks settled in Pelion during the 1700s and 1800s, after being persecuted and driven out of Mt. Athos as supporters of the Kollyvades movement. Logically, they also brought their dedication to the founder of Athonite monasticism, St. Athanasius the Athonite, with them. (The longest vigil on Mt. Athos, clocking in at 18 hours, is to this saint, at Megistis Lavra.) I found an icon here of the Athonite and St. Tryphon, dating to the mid-1800s. (I'm now looking for donors, incidentally, to clean and restore the icon for 100 euros=$135). 

I had previously guessed St. Athanasius the Great for several reasons, but especially the fact that I found an icon of him and St. Anthony dating to 1809. I assumed it was the original icon for the chapels, and that the later icon, from 1838, with St. Anthony and the Athonite, was a later change. Now I think it must have simply been a festal icon combining the saints because their feast days are next to each other? Interestingly, the current icon above the chapel, which cannot date before WWII, is of the Great and St. Tryphon. But I think this must have been a later correction to a more popular saint.

I also found this icon of St. Tryphon, was dates to only about 1970 and was commissioned by the long-tenured priest here, Fr. George. I have set this one up in the chapel until the older, original one is cleaned.

The door in the center is the "secret" passageway to the altar area of the main church.

During the summer, the chapel's lack of size will be no problem, as people can easily sit just outside the chapel on the benches in the exo-narthex. There they can also enjoy the peaceful view over the water.

You can also see a strong iron bar in the photo, which is what barricades the door. The door to the chapel can only be opened from the inside.

In any event, I've found the services for both St. Tryphon and St. Athanasius the Athonite, and we hope to celebrate both the saints in this chapel with appropriate honor.

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