By Catherine Tsounis, Contributor
“The beginning is the most important part of the work” – Plato.
Our positive beginning of following Byzantine footsteps in Northern Italy began at a Greek Orthodox wedding at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George in Venice, known as San Giorgio dei Greci. We arrived in Venice on Saturday October 14th, staying at the Bisanzio Hotel in San Zaccaria station, near the church. A sunny, autumn day was our introduction to a Greek Orthodox Cathedral with a bright colored icon of Jesus in ancient Greek clothing stretching his hand to all who enter the doors with Greek columns. Alexandra Giorgios from Vrakas (Central Greece), explained “we wanted to be married at St. George Church in Venice. My family came to witness our marriage.” Niki, her sister, and best friend, Viki, were part of her bridal party. Rev. Nicola Madaro with the church cantor performed an inspiring service in Greek
“The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George in Venice is the oldest and historically the most important church of the Orthodox Diaspora. For centuries it has been one of the most splendid Orthodox temples in the world.
Despite the close ties of Venice to the Byzantine world, the Greek Orthodox Rite was not permitted in Venice for centuries. Finally, 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. The church was completed in 1573 and became the center of the Scuola dei Greci, the Confraternity of the Greeks in Venice. Since 1991 the church of Saint George has served as the Metropolitan Cathedral of the new Archdiocese of Italy and Exarchate of Southern Europe.”1