Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
59, Church of Aghios Dimitrios, Thessaloniki

The Church of Aghios Dimitrios often serves as the de facto cathedral of Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading.

During this time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

This week’s theme is seven churches in Thessaloniki, and my photographs this morning (27 July 2021) are from the Church of Aghios Dimitrios in Thessaloniki.

Inside the Church of Aghios Dimitrios … rebuilt after the catastrophic fire in 1917 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Church of Aghios Dimitrios is the best-known church in Thessaloniki. It is named after the martyred Roman soldier who is the city’s patron saint and whose feast day is on 26 October. The church was first built as a small oratory shortly after the year 313 on the ruins of a Roman bath and on the site of the saint’s martyrdom ten years earlier on the orders of the Emperor Galerius.

A new church was built on the same site in the fifth century. This was a large, three-aisled basilica, but was burnt down in 634. Soon after, the present five-aisled basilica was built on the site, and it remains the largest church in Greece.

The church became a mosque in 1493, but was restored to Christian worship in 1912. It was destroyed by fire again in 1917, but restoration work began immediately after the catastrophe of 1917. Very few fragments of sculptures, mosaics or frescoes survived the fire of 1917, but those that have survived are representative of the successive phases of the church’s history.

Today, the church often functions as the de facto cathedral of Thessaloniki.

The crypt under the sanctuary and the transept is said to be the place where the saint was martyred, and has been an archaeological site since it was discovered in 1918.

The remains of Saint Dimitrios were returned from Italy in 1980 and are part of the exhibition open to the public, with items that survived the 1917 fire and others that came to light during recent excavations.

The church was restored to Christian worship in 1912 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 13: 36-43 (NRSVA):

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ 37 He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!’

The Church of Aghios Dimitrios in Thessaloniki is the largest church in Greece (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (27 July 2021) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for the victims of human trafficking. May we remember that we are all made in God’s image.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Saint Dimitrios of Thessaloniki … a new icon by Alexandra Kaouki of Rethymnon

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

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