The Church of the Greeks in Venice, a Photo Tour off the beaten track
...I have been blatantly denied instead when, during the opening of one of my exhibitions, I met the pastor of the Church of the Greeks. He is a very kind and extremely cultivated person, and he allowed me to attend and photograph during a very important celebration for the Orthodox community: the baptism of the Cross. One of the most exciting experiences I've ever lived in Venice!
We must know that, at the end of '400 residents Greeks in Venice got permission to found a place of gathering with an adjoining church, for the many compatriots living on the island and to enable them to follow the Orthodox rite. In 1537 they started to build the church dedicated to St. George the Martyr which today stands stately and elegant, with its leaning tower. Even nowadays, the Greek community comes together every week, the rite is always the old one and the sound of prayers in this language unknown to me puts chills and gets me back in time.
The church and the churchyard of the Greeks are in an almost untouched Venetian corner, and it seems impossible to believe that we are just a few hundred meters away from the chaos of Piazza San Marco! On the 6th January, during the rite of baptism of the Cross, all the faithful, led by the Bishop, leave the church in a procession, as far as the adjacent Greek bridge. From the top of this bridge the Bishop throws the cross in the canal and it is readily recovered and returned to the church.
One more very important holiday for the Orthodox community in Venice is the feast of the patron saint, St. George the Martyr, which is celebrated on April 23rd. I was lucky enough to attend the celebration of 2015 and 2017, when bishops from around the world concelebrated a function of more than three hours, with a Byzantine choir that put the willies hearing it, as it was so solemn. I am particularly attached to this experience because, in a moment of the choir break, I did not not lower the camera and I took what I consider one of the most successful photographs of my career. A picture within a picture.