Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Greek Orthodox Church Organized in Chicago" article - The Chicago Daily Tribune, April 17, 1892


Published in The Chicago Daily Tribune, April 17, 1892

GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH ORGANIZED IN CHICAGO
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The Rev. Panaghiotis Fiambolis in Charge of It -
Ceremonies Last Sunday - How the Greeks in Chicago
Started It and Secured a Priest - The Difference Between
the Service and That of the Roman Catholic Church -
Description of the Place of Worship.
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Services were held in the Chicago Greek Orthodox Church, No. 11 Union Street, for the first time last Sunday and were repeated every evening during holy week.  Easter services will be held today at 2 p.m.

With the ministrations of the Rev. Panaghiotis Fiambolis, who arrived in Chicago from Athens April 6, the Church of the Annunciation was founded.

There was no corner-stone laying, no elaborate ceremonial, for the Greeks of Chicago are not in the position yet to have a church building of their own, though they expect to have one soon.  The home of the new congregation is on the fifth floor of the building at the northeast corner of West Randolph and Union streets, but, though the walls were bare of decorations, the earnest faces of the worshipers showed that they took no account of their surroundings.

The services lasted from 8 o'clock until 11, and an American church-goer can better appreciate the devotion of the attendants when it is said that they remained standing during the entire three hours.

"It is the custom in the Orthodox church," said one of them - S.A. Sworonas.  "We think it shows more respect."

What the Service Is.

The service of the Greek Church resembles in some of its outward features that of the Roman Catholic Church, but as there has been no connection or intercourse between them for twelve centuries the differences in liturgy are almost as great as those of dogma.  The altar is not open, as in the Roman Catholic Church, but is separated from the nave by a partition, in which there are three doors, that on the north symbolical of the birth of Christ.  The middle door is called the holy door, and is directly opposite the altar, which can be seen when it is open, but during the celebration of the mass this door is kept closed, the congregation not being allowed to see the mysteries.  The greater part of the service consists in the chanting of the Psalms of David, responsively by the priest and choir.

The priestly vestments are no less rich and gorgeous than those of the Roman Catholic clergy.  Father Fiambolis wore a loosely flowing gown of rich red velvet, hanging to the floor, on the front of which, one above the other, were embroidered two gold crosses, and except in celebrating the mass he wore a cope or hood of black.  Candles blazed on the altar and in the central aisle, and near one of them was a stand on which lay an engraving in copper of the Annunciation.  Each worshiper as he came in reverently kissed the figures, and then left his ??ite (sp?) with the treasurer, who at once lit a candle and placed it in the candelabrum, the size of the candle being proportioned to the size of the contribution.  Each worshiper also fasted on his coat a cross made of palm leaves.

The services ended with the administration of the sacrament, each person kissing the hand of the priest before he took the bread.

At the conclusion of the sacrament a young Greek, F. Contes, recited a poem, welcoming the priest and urging all those present to join the congregation, his rhyme and the brief exhortation of Father Fiambolis in reply having the effect of adding twenty new names to the rolls of the society.

Father Fiambolis was seen after the services at his rooms in the Commercial Hotel.

Father Fiambolis' Life.

"I was born in Ithaca," he explained, "in the land of Ulis, and in my boyhood the Ionian Islands were under English government and I learned English in the schools there.  It is long since I have spoken the tongue, but it was because I know something of it that Germanos, the Metropolitan of Athens, sent me on this mission, and it is slowly coming back to me."

A chance question led to a discussion of the differences between the Greek and Roman religions, concerning which Father Fiambolis said:
"The differences between the two are many.  Originally they were one, and the five patriarchs at Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Rome were originally equal, but the Church of Rome introduced new dogmas which we would not accept.  The claim of the Popes to be the successors of St. Peter was not heard of until the eighth century, and the Eastern Church would not accept it or admit the infallibility of the Pope.  The Church of Rome changed our faith, too, by the belief that the Holy Spirit descends from the Father and the Son, while we believe it descends from the Father through the Son, and this led to a final separation of the two churches in the eighth century.  They changed the mysteries, the communication of the sacrament, giving only the bread, because the wine was said to be the real blood of Christ.  The ancient church gave both body and blood, bread and wine, for the Father says 'It shall be both meat and drink.'  The Roman church constructed a new dogma - that of purgatory - which we do not accept, though we pray for the souls of the dead.  The priests of the Orthodox church may marry."

The interpreter, Mr. Swaronas, told how Father Fiambolis was brought to Chicago.

"There are about a thousand Greeks in Chicago," he said, "excluding the Russians, Slavs, Bulgarians, and others who belong to the Orthodox church, but do not come from independent Greece.  They have all settled here in the last five or six years.  Five years ago there were not twenty-five Greeks in Chicago.  Three or four months ago the Grecian Society of Lycurgus was organized and it now has a membership of about 150 and a fund of $1,300.  The intention of the society was to organize a church as we had never had a priest here, but we concluded not to build one yet, but start in this hall.  The society sent to the Metropolitan at Athens and asked him to send us a priest, leaving the choice to him, and the members are well pleased that they did so.

"The officers of the societ are Constantine Michaelachio, President, A. Manusas, Vice-President, and N. Mazarakos Treasurer.  Twenty new members came in after Sunday's services and they will keep coming in now.  There were 400 at the services, but we expect twice as many next week."

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