VENICE: Dendias visits the most historic church in the Greek Diaspora

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in Venice on January 16, 2023.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias visit the San Giorgio dei Greci (Saint George of the Greeks) church in Venice during his trip to the Italian city, according to a related post by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Twitter.

"I visited in Venice the San Giorgio dei Greci, the oldest and most historic church of the Greek Diaspora," wrote the foreign minister.

Subsequently, Dendias visited the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine & Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice and the Museum of Icons. As part of the visit, the New Year's pie was cut, in the presence of Rev. Metropolitan of Italy & Exarch of Southern Europe Polykarpo.

Construction of the San Giorgio dei Greci was started by Sante Lombardo, and from 1548, by Giannantonio Chiona. The belltower was built in 1592.

The interior has a monument to Gabriele Seviros (1619) by Baldassarre Longhena. The dome of the church was frescoed with the Last Judgement (1589–93) by Giovanni Kyprios. Other artists who completed work for the church were Markos Bathas, Thomas Bathas, Venediktos Emporios, and Michael Damaskinos.

Emanuele Tzane-Buniales, a priest and hagiographer from Crete. Tzanes frescoed the Saints Simeon and Alypios, ascetic hermits, atop the pilasters. Other famous Greek artists associated with the church were: Konstantinos Tzanes, Philotheos Skoufos, Ioannis Moskos, Leos Moskos and Emmanuel Tzanfournaris.

Amongst the treasures in this church are three icons which Anna Notaras, daughter of Loukas Notaras, the last megas doux of the Byzantine Empire, brought with her to Italy before 1453, and she later gave to the Scuola de San Nicolò dei Greci in trust for when a church observing the Greek Orthodox faith could be constructed.

These icons comprise: one of Christ in His glory surrounded by symbols of the four Evangelists and figures of the 12 Apostles; another of Christ Pantokrator; and the third is an image of the Virgin Hodegetria.

Near the church lies the Flanginian School, a Greek teachers' school, which today houses the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice. The Museum was established by Sophia Antoniadis.

For centuries, the Greek Orthodox rite was not permitted in Venice. In 1498, the Greek community in Venice gained the right to found the Scuola de San Nicolò dei Greci, a confraternity which aided members of that community.

In 1539, after protracted negotiations, the papacy allowed the construction of the church of San Giorgio, financed by a tax on all ships from the Orthodox world.

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