By Eliott Rodriguez

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami’s first Greek Orthodox church was founded in 1927.

After twenty years the church relocated to Coral Way and Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, a beautiful Byzantine basilica, was dedicated in 1949.

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The church was founded by Greek immigrants, including Marina Angleton’s grandfather, Angelo Kays, whose name appears on the cornerstone.

“My mother was married here, I was christened and here, I was married here, and my son was christened here. That’s four generations of Greeks in this cathedral,” said Angleton.

Today, the worshippers hail from many countries.

“We have many people from Romania, from Russia, from Georgia all orthodox. And we open up our doors to anybody who is seeking the love of Christ and what the orthodox church has to offer,” said Father Spiro Bobotas, the head pastor.

As with all earthly things. with decades of use, the cathedral started showing its age.

From the marble floors to the original chandeliers, all the way up the 60-foot high dome.

“Now, we have found a position where we need to bring this beautiful lady back to where she needs to be,” said Bobotas.

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“So, during the pandemic, while offering services online, it seemed like the time for renovation and restoration of the revered site,” he added. “The marble is from Penteli, Greece, from the mines in Penteli, beautiful white marble, we’ve been trying to restore this. The stained glass will be polished and cleaned and the icons have been cleaned, all the icons that you see here whether they’re canvas or mosaics. And the devil is in the details.”

Craftsmanship is key, but an iconographer from Greece could not fly in to do this delicate work due to COVID-19.

Instead, canvasses of the religious icons were created in Greece and shipped. All the meticulous work being done under the attentive eyes of Bobotas.

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“When you climb up 60 feet to the top of the dome you can see all the things that are in need. I do it with the camera on my phone in my pocket, when I climb it is for the parishioners so that they can get a feel for it because it’s their church,” said Bobotas.

That feeling among the faithful is an inspiration.

“This is a beacon of hope when you see this happening, especially during a pandemic, it is nothing short of a miracle,” said Marina Angleton.

“To me any church is beautiful. But to be part of this church, and to be the pastor of this church to see it in its glory, that’s what I look forward to,” Bobotas said.

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The renovation is well underway, and support from donations is being accepted. For more information, you can visit the website here.

Eliott Rodriguez