Special Exhibits

The St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine hosted the 40th Anniversary Celebration exhibit thanks to a grant from the The Kathie D’Anna Charitable Fund.

This unique Exhibit, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first National Shrine of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, commenced February 27, 2022 will remain open to the public until February 27, 2023.

In conjunction with this exhibit, the St. Photios National Shrine has produced a 10-minute documentary specifically showcasing the 40 year history of the Shrine.  Played continuously at the Shrine’s exhibit in honor of 40th Anniversary housed in St. Augustine, Florida, may also be viewed on the St. Photios Facebook Page at https://fb.watch/c4B0QXFjyE/

Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory presided over the dedication on February 27, 1982, stating, “This Shrine is dedicated to those who came here 414 years ago in search of freedom and to escape the most barbaric oppression, and for the contribution they made to our country.” His Eminence, before entering the Shrine, unveiled a plaque that pays tribute to the first colony of Greek refugees who worshiped here in 1777.

In 1768 nearly 500 Greeks with 900 others of Mediterranean descent left their homelands and established the New Smyrna Colony in hopes of a better life.  Just a little over 400 of these indentured servants survived after a decade of brutal treatment that followed.

They escaped to St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, and it was here, in the Avero House which is the current site of the Shrine, that they found refuge.



Made possible through the generosity of The Toundas Family
“Hagia Sophia – The Jewel of the City”

59 Contestant Submissions

In conjunction with the annual commemoration of the Fall of Constantinople, the Saint Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine is proud to display the entrants’ submissions to the inaugural Drawing Competition open to children ages 9-12 of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

An enduring symbol of the Imperial Capital and of the Orthodox Church is the “Jewel of The City,” the magnificent Church of the Holy Wisdom, Haghia Sophia. Built under Emperor Justinian I in Constantinople in the 6th century, the “Great Church” was the cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarchate until the Fall of the City about 900 years later when it was forcibly changed to a mosque under the Ottoman conquerors. After the end of the Ottoman Empire, it was converted into a museum at the beginning of the 20th century, though recently converted back to a mosque under the current leadership of modern Turkey.

Participants submitted drawings of the famous Haghia Sophia, the Church of the Holy Wisdom, still a symbol of the vibrant faith, culture and spirit of the Hellenes and the Ecumenical Patriarchate that continue in Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul, Turkey.

The annual commemoration of the Fall of Constantinople is not only a remembrance of the Fall of the capital of the Roman Empire on May 29, 1453 by the Ottomans who finally took the “Queen of Cities” established by Saint Constantine the Great some eleven centuries earlier; rather, it is also a celebration of Byzantine culture and the Hellenic culture that sprang from this pivotal event in world history