Greek tradition observed at St. Spyridon
It is a Greek tradition to welcome a new year by perpetuating the example of St. Basil, Bishop of Caesaria, Cappadocia (Asia Minor), born in 329 A.D.
This involves the ritual of finding a coin in a piece of blessed sweet bread (said to bring good luck in the coming year) — and ultimately helping orphans.
At St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in Monessen, the annual observance continues.
“St. Basil was the first to extablish an orphanage,” explained church member and deacon candidate Bill Leogas, “and we give the offerings made during the distribution of bread (vasilopita) to an orphanage.”
During the January event at St.Spyridon, the pastor, the Rev. Joseph DiStefano, solemnly blessed three giant loaves of vasilopita, which were then cut and shared following the luncheon.
The bread was donated by George J. Georgagis of Keystone Bakery.
There is a ritual connected to the distribution.
“The first piece is set aside for our lord and savior, Jesus Christ, and the second, for his mother, Mary,” Leogas said.
The third piece is for St. Basil the Great and after other religious designations, representatives of church affiliations share the bread.
The oldest member present, Ted Pitsilos, 93, and youngest, Sydney Callaway, 6, were recognized.
Everyone present claimed pieces of bread, but it was Dimitri Apodiakos, active youth member of the parish, who found the coveted coin in his piece of vasilopita.
Kassandra Bagiatis, Ladies Philoptochos Society president, coordinated the luncheon.
An interesting history reveals St. Basil's success in reversing an emperor's collection of coins and jewelry as payment for taxes from an impoverished people of Caesarea.
“The emperor had the tax canceled and gave the chests of coins and jewelry to St. Basil for distribution,” Leogas said.
“As the saint was faced with the task of returning everything to rightful owners, he prayed before the icons of Jesus and His mother for guidance.
“St. Basil had all the treasures baked into one huge pita and called the townspeople to prayer.
“After Divine Liturgy, he blessed and cut the pita, giving a piece to each person.
“Miraculously, each owner received his own valuables in his piece of vasilopita.”
Parish Council President Michael Galis acknowledged the importance of carrying on the tradition at St. Spyridon.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Oldies concert to give Charleroi school programs a boost
- Brownsville hopes grant can help launch project
- Suicide support group at Monongahela Valley Hospital looks to fill void
- Concert, dinner set to help California minister get new liver
- Child abuse suspect apprehended, his mom charged
- Donora man apprehended after North Belle Vernon pharmacy robbery
- Charleroi man charged in 3 cases
- Donora always welcome destination for Gantt
- Former Monessen Mayor Smith injured in train crossing crash
- Mormons in Valley for mission project
- Pittsburgh diocese campaign big success