Source: The National Herald
PALM HARBOR, FL – Greek singing superstar Giannis Ploutarchos took time out of his U.S. tour to help some fellow Greeks in need: the community of Sts. Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene in Palm Harbor, FL whose church was severely damaged by a fire in late September.
As TNH reported (“Fire Damages Palm Harbor Church, but Remains of 3 Saints are Saved,” Oct. 4), a fire in the early morning hours of September 23 – an investigation of which concluded it was electrical in nature – would have caused the entire church to burn to the ground, were it not for the quick response of Carol Dyer, who noticed the smoke as she proceeded on her newspaper route, delivering the Tampa Bay Times.
Dyer called the fire department immediately, and the firefighters were able to extinguish the flames before they engulfed the entire structure, saving among other things the critical ancient remnants of the three saints for which the Church is named – which were given to the Church, brought there from Greece. Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene were Christian martyrs from the village of Thermi on the island of Lesvos. According to the Church’s website, straphaelhoc.org, the three, who were fatally tortured by the Ottoman Empire in 1463, began appearing to Thermi villagers in dreams and visions in 1959, revealing their cruel torture and providing clues that led to important excavations. They were canonized as saints on September 11, 1970.
Then, Parish Council President Elias Diamanakis heard that world-renowned Greek singer Giannis Ploutarchos was coming to town. “I reached out to him as well as the production team at shortly after the fire, when I learned he was coming to the area to perform. Almost immediately, they responded in the affirmative. When he was in town, we touched base and arranged a time for him to see the property,” he told TNH.
Diamanakis was very appreciative of Ploutarchos’ support as well as his genuine desire to help. “He was engaged and seemed moved by what he encountered. He took time to reverence the liturgical space with dignity, and toured the entire premises examining the source of the fire. I spent time answering his questions about the foundation of the community and told him about the miracles I saw firsthand over the last few weeks,” not least of which how the relics of the Saints were spared from the flames.
“I know that this is only the beginning of his stewardship to our community,” Diamanakis continued. “He literally gave of time, talent and treasure to insure the church be resurrected from the ashes. I cannot over emphasize the genuineness of this man.”
Diamanakis was especially moved by Ploutarchos’ genuine quality: “He was extremely thoughtful and measured in his visit, I never once felt rushed or dismissed or as if this were being done as some public relations act. He was sincere and devoted to this faith, I really appreciated this ‘superstar’ in a real brotherly way. Mr. Ploutarchos – Giannis – and his family are in our daily prayers.”