Agios Dionyssios Areopagitis
Ι. Ν. ΑΓΙΟΥ ΔΙΟΝΥΣΙΟΥ ΑΡΕΟΠΑΓΙΤΟΥ
34 Skoufa St., Kolonaki
This stately church that stands dominant at a central location of the "posh" district of Kolonaki, on Skoufa street and opposite to the Experimental School of the University of Athens, is dedicated to the bishop and patron saint of Athens, Agios Dionyssios the Aeropagitis, considered to be the first official of ancient Athens to convert to Christianity. The church celebrates on October 3rd.
On the location of the present day church there was another smaller one, which started to be constructed in 1880 and was demolished in 1900 in order to erect this larger one. Construction work started in 1925 and was completed in 1931, when the inauguration was carried out by the Archbishop Chrysostomos.
This is a cross-in-square church with a large dome, following the neo-baroque style, and is characterized for its neoclassical elements in its exterior. Its plans were made by the architect and Byzantinologist Anastasios Orlandos, who was also responsible for the supervision of the construction, which were completed with the contribution of the architect Dimitrios Filippakis. Some of the most important artists of that time worked for the decoration of the church, such as the painter Spyros Vasileiou, who painted the icons, Sotirios Varvoglis and Stefanos Xenopoulos, responsible for the mosaics, and Theofanis Nomikos, one of the best wood-carvers, who made the woodwork. The architect Georgios Nomikos, brother of Theofanis, was responsible for the general supervision of the interior and exterior decoration. They also made the impressive, and unique for Greece, wooden chandelier of the church.
In recent years, due to the extensive renovation work that took place at the Metropolis of Athens due to damages caused by the 1999 earthquake, Agios Dionyssios was used as the official seat of the Archbishop of Athens, thus as the cathedral for all official ceremonies.
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St. Dionyssios the Areopagite
The holy, glorious and right-victorious Hieromartyr Dionyssios the Areopagite was baptized by Saint Paul in Athens and is among the Seventy Apostles.
Prior to his baptism, Dionyssios grew up in a notable family in Athens, attended philosophical school at home and abroad, was married and had several children, and was a member of the highest court in Greece, the Areopagus. After his conversion to Christianity, St. Paul made him Bishop of Athens. Eventually he left his family and went with St. Paul in missionary travel. He traveled to Jerusalem specifically to see the Most Holy Theotokos and writes of his encounter in one of his books. He was also present at her Dormition. A witness of St. Paul being martyred in Rome, St. Dionyssios desired to be a martyr as well. He went to Gaul to preach the Gospel to the barbarians. There his suffering was equaled only by his success in converting many pagans to Christianity. In the year 96, St. Dionyssios was seized and tortured and was beheaded under the reign of the Emperor Domitian. St. Dionyssios' head rolled a rather long way until it came to the feet of Catula, a Christian, who buried it with honors along with his body.