Located in St. Augustine, St Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine was the first of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America. The paintings that cover the walls and ceiling of the chapel were done by George Filippakis. In 1974, there was an archeological excavation which unearthed over 32,000 artifacts. The shrine was consecrated February 22, 1985. There are a number of religious relics, including a gold reliquary holding bone fragments from 18 saints of the ancient Christian Church. The shrine also has some permanent exhibits, such as vestments worn by Greek Orthodox bishops. The guy in the gift shop didn’t say “bless you” when I sneezed, though. You’d think they would.
Greek Orthodox vestments were often worn during the Byzantine Empire (321 CE - 1453 CE) and were influenced by garments worn by the emperor. Vestments have symbolism originating from the Old Testament. The first was worn by Metropolitan Iakovos of Derkon, and Archbishop Iakovos, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. The mitre (crown) belonged to Bishop Germanos of Constantia, and the cross, engolpion (medallion), staff, and candlesticks belonged to Bishop Timotheos of Rodostolou. The second was worn by Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, and the third by Bishop John of Amorion.

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