28 July 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
60, the Church of the Panagia Acheiropoietos, Thessaloniki

The Church of the Panaghia Acheiropoietos in Thessaloniki is one of the most important Byzantine churches in Greece (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 (28 July 2021) are from the Church of the Panagia Acheiropoietos in Thessaloniki, one of the most important Byzantine churches in Greece.

Inside the Church of the Panaghia Acheiropoietos (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Church of the Panaghia Acheiropoietos is an old Byzantine church, dating from the mid-fifth century. The church was built in on the site of a Roman bath, and was dedicated to the Virgin ‘not made by human hands’ (Acheiropoietos), a reference to an icon rather than an inference of any miraculous role in its building.

Inside the church, a few fragments of mosaics from the fifth century have survived in the soffits of the arches of the colonnades. Several parts of the wall paintings date from the 13th century, are also preserved in the south aisle.

This is a three-aisled basilica with a narthex on the west side and a second entrance with a monumental propylon in the middle of the south wall. A building attached to the east of the propylon may have been a baptistery or a diakonikon. A small parekklesion (chapel) is formed at the east end of the north aisle.

This was the first church in Thessaloniki to be converted into a mosque after the conquest of the city by the Turks in 1430. The Turks hammered down practically all the figurative decorations in the church, including the mosaics and frescoes.

The building was returned to use as a church in 1930, and remains a beautiful example og Byzantine church architecture.

The fifth century capitals and columns are from a workshop in Constantinople (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 13: 44-46 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 44 ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.’

Some of the remaining mosaics that once depicted the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (28 July 2021) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for the Church in the Province of West Africa, which comprises 17 dioceses across Cameroon, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The south porch of the Church of the Panagia Acheiropoietos (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

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