St. Photios National Greek Orthodox Shrine – St. Augustine, Florida - Atlas Obscura

The St. Photios Shrine located in St. Augustine, FL has a long history of association with the Greek community in the United States.

The present-day shrine is primarily housed in an old home called the Avero House, built by a Spanish family in 1749. The first Greek immigrants to arrive in the United States came to Florida in 1768 and after a disastrous attempt to settle a small colony south of St. Augustine, 291 indentured Greek settlers fled and found refuge in this English city. The English governor provided the Avero house to the refugees as a place for them to gather and worship but eventually the home passed into private ownership.

When the local Greek community learned of the home’s availability on the market in 1965, plans were made to purchase it. Work was completed in 1982 making the present site the only Greek National Shrine in the United States. To help celebrate the restoration of the site, a gift of a special gold reliquary was made by Archbishop Lakovos from the Three Hierarchs Church in Brooklyn, NY.

The reliquary contained bone fragments from 18 saints and was certified by the Vatican. The saints represented include 3 apostles and those of St. Nicholas of Myra who served as the basis for the legends of Santa Claus.

The complete list of the fragments contained in the reliquary includes;

St. Paul - 1st Century St. Peter - 1st Century St. Titus - 1st Century St. Haralambos - 2nd Century St. Anthony the Great - 3rd Century St. Ambros - 4th Century St. Athanasios the Great - 4th Century St. Basil the Great - 4th Century St. Constantine - 4th Century St. Cyril of Jerusalem - 4th Century St. Gregory of Nazianzos - 4th Century St. Gregory of Nyssa - 4th Century St. Helena - 4th Century St. John the Chrysostom - 4th Century St. Nicholas of Myra (Santa Claus)- 4th Century St. Cyril of Alexandria - 5th Century St. Sabbas - 5th Century St. John of Damascus - 5th Century

Along with the reliquary, the shrine also contains examples of Byzantine art, frescoes, a gift shop and an outdoor garden.

Know Before You Go

located in the Old Quarter of St. Augustine

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