In the summer of 1995, six monks traveled from Mount Athos in Greece to the Arizona desert to build a monastery. They acquired 165 acres outside Florence, Arizona, and began construction. Today, St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery houses 65 monks.
The monastery is truly an oasis in the desert, physically and spiritually. Portions of the facility are open to the public. There is a strict dress code, and visitors are asked not to engage the monks.
In case you’re interested, on Thursday I posted some pictures of doors on the monastery grounds.
After a brief orientation with a monastery book store volunteer, the first stop on the self-guided tour is the main church, St. Anthony’s. A pair of gold-painted lions flank the front door.
The interior is highly ornamented in the Byzantine style. The altar is located behind the red curtain and is off-limits to visitors.
The candles in the massive brass chandelier are lit on major feast days.
Tall wooden seats line the walls of the church. Normally, worshippers stand during the service, but they can lower the seats and sit if necessary.
The floors are mostly plain tiles, with a few areas of decorative motifs including marble and granite.
Some additional furnishings in the church. (Click on the smaller images to enlarge and see captions.)
There are several chapels on the monastery campus. Below is St. Nicholas’ Chapel.
Look at the beautiful detailing of the tower.
The two photographs below are of the interior of St. Nicholas’ Chapel.
Below is St. George’s Chapel, built in the Romanian style.
Here is another view, showing the main entrance.
The chapel has a magnificent wooden ceiling
and a lovely carved and painted wooden crucifix in the Greek Orthodox style.
Look at the lovely hand-embroidered hardanger curtain in the window.
St. Demetrios’ Chapel’s architecture is reminiscent of rural Russia.
The interior is small, but lovely.
An icon rests on an expertly carved stand.
I have lots more pictures of the monastery–enough for two more posts next week.