Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Praying in Lent and Easter 2021:
78, the Ascension and Saint George, Panormos

The Church of the Ascension and Saint George in Panormos (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Easter this year, I am continuing my theme from Lent, taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

Sunday (2 May 2021) was Easter Day in the Calendar of the Orthodox Church, and this week is Easter Week. I miss the opportunity of being in Greece at this special time of year, so my photographs this week are from churches in Crete.

Until the pandemic lockdown, I have been visiting Rethymnon almost every year since the 1980s. My photographs this morning (5 May 2021) are from the Church of the Ascension and Saint George in Panormos, east of Rethymnon.

For some years, it has been something of a tradition during holidays in Rethymnon to spend lazy, sunny Sunday afternoons in the small coastal village of Panormos, visiting the church dedicated to the Ascension and Saint George, and enjoying lingering lunches in the restaurants, including the Agkyra, Porto Parasiris and Captain’s House.

These lunches often become hours of uninterrupted bliss, sipping coffee, reading books and watching life in the small harbour and beaches below.

The recently built church in Panormos is dedicated to the Ascension (Analipsi) and Saint George (Agios Georgios) and it has a splendid dome with a modern, majestic fresco of Christ the Pantocrator.

Behind the village are the remains of the Agia Sophia Basilica, once one of the largest basilicas in Crete. The site is fenced off and there are few signs indicating its importance. The basilica was built in the fifth and sixth centuries. According to archaeologists, this was the seat of the Diocese of Eleftherna, which transferred there after the destruction of the ancient city of Panormos. In time, the name Agia Sophia was given to the entire area around the basilica.

The Basilica of Agia Sofia was uncovered following research by the theologian Konstantinos Kalokiris, and the site was excavated in 1948-1955 by the archaeologist Professor N. Platonas.

Christ Pantocrator in the dome of the Church of Aghios Georgios in Panormos on Easter afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 15: 1-8 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 15 ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.’

Inside Saint George’s Church in Panormos, between Rethymnon and Iraklion (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (5 May 2021, International Midwives Day) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for new life, and those who work to ensure its protection. We pray for nurses and midwives across the world.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The site of the Basilica of Aghia Sofia is a five-minute walk from the village of Panormos (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

A hush descends on the cobbled streets of Panormos on Easter afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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