PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Saints Raphael, Nicholas & Irene Greek Orthodox Church in Palm Harbor is being reborn. The church was devastated by a fire in 2014.
This week, it is getting a boost from from a surprising place. Ten craftsmen from Greece, plus the church’s main architect, will live in the Tampa Bay area until the church is completed.
Designed in the Byzantine style, the basilica will be made with wood and stone imported from Greece. The walls will be fifty-five feet high and ten inches thick. It will be topped by a domed ceiling and a bell tower. All the windows are handmade with Kozani marble.
“When you walk in here, you’re not going to know if you’re in heaven or on earth,” says Father Panteleimon Maillis. “This is going to be here for the ages, a landmark in Palm Harbor.”
Congressman Gus Bilirakis and other dignitaries will attend a foundation ceremony on Friday. The event is open to the public. Attendees will be able to see renderings of the finished product.
The church’s claim to fame is it houses the holy relics (bones) of the titular saints. Until the construction is finished, the relics reside in a former steakhouse in a strip mall.
The church is scheduled to open in about a year.