Special Exhibits

Archbishop Athenagoras Exhibit

St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine has a dual mission: to witness the Orthodox Christian faith and share the Hellenic culture while giving the historic account of the Greek immigrants who came to America as indentured servants in 1768.

Embroidery, a beautiful art form, is deeply ingrained in the culture of Greece.  This art form has been mostly practiced by women, handing down traditional patterns and techniques for centuries throughout the generations. 

Here we offer the visitor a closer look at a few samples created in the 18th century and in the years before and after.

These images were curated for the original 48-piece exhibition in 2008 by Marietta (Marcy) Ballis of Atlantic Beach, Florida.  Marcy, a phenomenal artist in her own right, was inspired by the late Joan Petrakis, author of the book, The Needle Arts of Greece: Design and Techniques and Matushka Galina Tregubov, an iconographic embroiderer whose ecclesiastical items are handmade in accordance with ancient Orthodox art and in Russian tradition, only slightly modified to accommodate modern materials.


The Theodosian Walls of Constantinople 



The Trustees of the St. Photios Foundation, Inc. proudly share the results of the Third Annual Drawing Contest of St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine.  Held in conjunction with the annual commemoration of the Fall of Constantinople, students, ages 9-12 of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, are encouraged to learn about the Fall of Constantinople and to express what was learned, through art.  


This year, the children were commissioned to learn about the Theodosian Walls, one of Constantinople’s most impressive surviving monuments from antiquity.  The three judges commented: “the artists understood the topic they were to draw by using a variety of mediums” (Mariann Mantzouris), “the renditions demonstrate intricate details” (Smaro Milonas), and “these wonderful drawings from such young artists exhibit so much talent” (Prof. Laura Mongiovi). 


These artists depict this architectural marvel begun during the reign of Theodosius II in the early 5th century. Anthemius, who was Theodosius’ Praetorian Prefect (prime minister) at the time, is credited with supervising this three-tiered perimeter.  


Constructed over the course of nine years it extends from the Golden Gate, stretching for four miles across the peninsula from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn, expanding on the work begun in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine I.  


The walls were an effective defense line for 800 years. It was the largest and strongest barricade built in either the ancient or medieval worlds. Even Attila the Hun failed in conquering the “Queen of Cities”. The moat in the first tier, the 96 towers, the sentries at the ten gates are just a few of the many elements that created this effective line of defense.  


In 1453, the Empire came to an end when the Ottomans breached Constantinople’s ancient land wall after besieging the city for 55 days. Sultan Mehmet II carried out the 8-week campaign, surrounding Constantinople from land and sea while employing cannon to maintain a constant barrage of the city’s formidable walls.  


The Empire collapsed as the City was taken on May 29, 1453.  


The Trustees are grateful judges for ranking the submissions and to William, Pamela, and Michael Toundas who continue to underwrite this creative learning opportunity for the children in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.  


The participants in the 2023 Drawing Contest include the winner, 12-year-old Sofia Koutsoupias of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Charlotte, NC and Napoleon Gelis, 11 years old, of St. Demetrios, Fort Lauderdale, FL; Katharina Gabrielides, 10 years old, of Wesley Chapel, FL; Victor Constantin Acatrinei,  9 years old, of Annunciation, N. Miami, FL; Alexi Andrioti, 9 years old, of Holy Trinity, St. Augustine, FL; Nicholas E. Coalson, 10 years old, of  St. Nicholas, Corpus Christi, TX; Amalia Pieper, 11 years old, St. George, Chicago, IL; Diacos Sayers, 9 years old and Kostas Tsovilis, 11 years old, both of St. Demetrios, Daytona Beach, FL; and Vasili Moody 10 years old, of the Annunciation Cathedral, Atlanta, GA.  Congratulations!