The traditional Byzantine cathedral that sits majestically along Bayou St. John is opening its doors to the public as part of Holy Trinity’s 150th anniversary celebration.
Throughout the festival weekend, free guided tours will provide a deeper insight into the Greek Orthodox faith, the community’s traditions and the history of Greeks in New Orleans.
“We survived as a group of pioneer immigrants, immersion into a culture that didn’t know our faith, civil war, reconstruction, disease, hurricanes and the continuous need to be strong and to stay with our faith in order to maintain it,” said Magdalene Maag, volunteer archivist and historian at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
In the 20-minute tour, Maag and interim priest Father Dean Gigicos will discuss a brief history of orthodoxy, the architecture of the church, the iconography and the historic collection that anchors the cathedral’s 150-year history.
“I think the story is, how in the world his community has saved this collection over the years. We have in our cathedral icons and artifacts dating back to the early 1800s that has been saved all these years in every manifestation of the church,” Maag said.
Holy Trinity, the first Greek Orthodox Church in the Americas, was originally established in 1864 at 1222 N. Dorgenois St. with the aid of wealthy cotton and sugar merchant Nicholas Bernachi, and co-founders Demetrios Botassis and John Botassis.
The cathedral has been in its current location at 1200 Robert E. Lee Blvd. since 1985. Its unique architecture displays artist Lawrence Manos’ Byzantine iconography throughout its interior. In addition to the cathedral tours, Holy Trinity will be holding its usual vesper and Sunday services. The public is welcome to attend.
“Come experience and learn about the faith, even if it is for 15 to 20 minutes while in the cathedral,” Maag said.