2 January 2011
His Holiness Pope Theodoros II, Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church in Alexandria and all Africa, has consecrated St Spyridon’s Church in east Qantara now that it has been entirely restored and renovated.
The church was built in 1925 but was totally destroyed by action in the successive wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973. The last war was followed by several attempts to acquire a licence to restore the damaged church, but all these requests failed. A decree to demolish the church was issued in June 2005.
Bishop Kallinicos of Port Said led a major effort to save the church aided by a team of laymen, among whom were Nahedd Zarifa and Youssef al-Hosari. The team faced a great many obstacles and challenges, but they pressed ahead and were finally granted a comprehensive restoration licence.
Pope Theodoros II held the inauguration ceremony and consecrated the iconstasis. He placed the marble over the altar after placing underneath it the saint’s relics and ordaining them with a special blend of 40 waxes, oils and perfumed spices. He then traced the Greek symbol of Jesus Christ in the four corners of the church with chrism, a consecrated mixture of oil and balm. The Holy Mass was held by Pope Theodoros, Bishop Nicollas of Tanta, Bishop Kallinicos of Port Said and Bishop Ghobrial of Alexandria.
“Re-opening the church after being closed for years is a historical event; it is the blessing of St Spyridon”, said Pope Theodoros II.
After Mass, Pope Theodoros II honoured Archbishop Kallinicos and his team by presenting each with a medal in the shape of a cross and a certificate of appreciation.
Among those who attended the consecration ceremony was Panajiotis Vlassopoulos the Greek ambassador in Cairo, Greek officials in Egypt, and a large number of members of the Greek Orthodox congregation in Egypt and in Greece.
Saint Spyridon of Tremithus was born towards the end of the third century on the island of Cyprus. He was a shepherd, and had a wife and children. He used all his substance for the needs of his neighbors and the homeless, for which the Lord rewarded him with a gift of wonderworking. He healed those who were incurably sick, and cast out demons. Later, as a bishop, he stood out as an outstanding teacher of Orthodoxy at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. Saint Spyridon has remained one of the most beloved saints in the Greek Orthodox Church throughout the centuries.