A Miracle of Transformation in Valley Forge


St Sophia and its new interior by Dr Kordis

There is a great spirit of excitement and electricity at the Parish of St Sophia in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania a suburb of Philadelphia.  A dedicated Parish of less than 200 families created an authentic Architectural Landmark of True Faith in Metro Philadelphia which is rooted in the 6th Century Byzantine tradition with the design by CJK Design Group.

The new Byzantine Temple with Copper colored Domes - Under Construction

Painting the Iconography inside the Dome. The Architecture is designed to accommodate the Icon Program and the Icons are designed to enhance the architectural features

Painting the Pantocrator - the Almighty Christ - in the top of the dome, an important theological relationship

Thanks to the unceasing efforts of Dean and Nina Laskaris, who have been dedicated champions for the Parish and the building program since the beginning, and others within the Parish who have seen the wisdom of pursing the iconography at the get-go, Dr. George Kordis was brought on board to complete the first phase of the iconography program.  Dr George Kordis, the internationally renowned Iconographer, and five of his gifted and accomplished associates arrived on January 28th from Athens at Philadelphia International Airport to begin their work in transforming the interior of the new temple.

Tools of the Trade - Egg tempera paints

They “worked live” all of February and though the first week in March in the Old World Approach, first sketching then painting directly on the specially prepared interior walls and vaulted surfaces using classic egg tempera paints applied over “High Tech ” German KEIM Silica paint.  Over 5,000 went into the egg tempera used!  The team worked day and night dialoguing with the architecture, sketching and painting in a prayerful manner.  They easily worked on the arched surfaces that are ancient in form, but modern in their implementation.  Radius Track was able to create the curves using 3D computer modeling and special metal framing technology that ensured a successful outcome.  This is Dr Kordis’ second project with CJK Design.  See their work in their other CJK project in Columbia, SC here:   http://cjkdesign.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/transformative-and-moving-the-iconography-of-dr-george-kordis/

Detail of an Angelic Host

The Master at work painting directly on the walls

Inside with the Inquirer

The front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer profiled Dr Kordis, his work and the new structure in February.  What started as a short piece about a new building in the suburbs turned into a headline-worthy artcle thanks to the iconography program.  You can see a video by the newspaper here:  http://www.philly.com/philly/video/BC1469627329001.html

Listening to Dr. Kordis in the Lecture Hall. The impressive Crosses to be installed can be seen on the stage.

The Hellenic University Club of Philadelphia hosted a lecture at the Parish on the 26th of February centered around a discussion on the Iconography.  Dr Kordis gave an in-depth talk and demonstration of the painting of an icon.  With a packed house, well over 350 present, it was a great and inspirational evening!  Kudos to Georgia Chletcos and the HUC for and Incredible and Great Event with a wonderful tone and Spirit!


Detail of the Pendentives

The Completed dome with the Prophets between the windows and Christ at the Apex of the dome.

Two weeks later, the Core iconography had been completed and unveiled in an awe-inspiring event on March 10.  The Dome & Drum, Pendentives and Apse were revealed to the crowd as Dr Kordis was present to give a short talk on the meaning of the iconography and its theological significance.  While gracious benefactors have already underwritten many of the icons, there are still many opportunities to donate to the iconography, other portions of the church or future phases of construction.  http://www.stsophiavf.org/

The next day, the Parish blessed the crosses raised them into position over the shiny copper-colored domes fabricated by ATAS and installed.  The CJK designed, 6th Century Justinian rooted Crosses are incredible “Crowning Jewels” to the Domes.

Placing the cross on the domes. One is on the main dome and one (not installed here) on the bell tower.

Main Dome and Bell Tower Dome with the Crosses installed.

As Phase 1 of the project nears completion, we must say bravo to the team of Horst Construction, especially Garlyn Yenner and Tom Byers, and their many sub-contractors for their dedication to quality and making it happen.

Bravo to Dr. George Kordis and his dedicated team who channeled their God-given gifts and talents to create a space that is truly Heaven on Earth.

The iconography is interwoven with intricate architecture. The flooring is being installed now.

Finally, Bravo to St Sophia and the Vision, Resolve and Foresight of its Leadership and Dedication of its Benefactors; Current, Present and Future.  Since, as a small parish, they have made a huge impact in the community completing the magnificent Architecture and Iconography.  Without the Leadership of Fr. Peter Thornberg and his core team of Dean Laskaris, Alex Nikas, Dr Peter Patukas, Tom Cox, John Papadimitriou, and the rest of the building committee members, this project would never have happened.  We look forward to your Thyranoixia on Saturday April 7th.

3 thoughts on “A Miracle of Transformation in Valley Forge

  1. demetri

    i am so saddened that the Church is smaller than originally envisioned. small church and giant hall. what happens when the community grows, do you have church in the hall again?

  2. Anonymous

    We invite you all to come and see the church for yourself. We added more since the Thyranixia!


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