Home Church & Religion Winner of the Fourth St. Photios Drawing Contest Announced

Winner of the Fourth St. Photios Drawing Contest Announced

St. Augustine, FL –

Irene Shizas, a 12-year-old who attends St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Clifton, NJ, was the winner of the Fourth Annual Drawing Contest of St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine held in conjunction with the commemoration of the Fall of Constantinople.

Participating this year were 12 students aged 9-12 of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, who were encouraged to learn about the Fall of Constantinople and to express what was learned, through art.

Melody and Gerry Mastrokalos of Astoria, NY, Maria Gavras of Moorestown, NJ, Theodora Tsiplakos of Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, Valentina Stabile of Cherry Hill, NJ, Sophia Miliotis of Astoria, NY, Haris Tsoplakis of Mullica Hill, NJ, Sofia Forcella of Tarpon Springs, FL, Sophia Bournelis of Canton, OH, Despoina Mandikou of Flushing, NY, and Sofia Danforth of Byron, GA., were challenged to learn about the Deesis Icon, one of Christendom’s most treasured frescoes located in the upper south gallery of Hagia Sophia.

 This icon was concealed for centuries after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.  The Virgin Mary and John the Baptist turn to Christ, the Son of God.  The figures are two and a half times larger than life.  As the south gallery was traditionally used for imperial use, it is believed that after a very tumultuous time in the Queen City, the icon was commissioned in 1261 by Emperor Michael VIII Paleologos when he reclaimed the Byzantine capital after the Latin period. 

The twelve submissions were judged by Carol Pappas, Laura Mongiovi, and Theodora Sergiou who congratulated the winner and all the participants.  “The drawings are very impressive. It was a difficult decision”, Professor Theodora Sergiou commented. “This was a hard one! Everyone did great work. The expressions depicted on the faces! Fabulous! Each submission is successful, demonstrating the artist’s ambition. I see attention to detail, creating marks to suggest texture and use of color to suggest reflected light”, Professor Laura Mongiovi said and Carol Pappas added that “the children did an amazing job on their artwork, to me they are all number ones”.

Digital prints of the 8 x 10 originals were exhibited in the St. Photios Museum special exhibit area through May 31, 2025. 

The Trustees of St. Photios Foundation expressed their gratitude to William, Pamela, and Michael Toundas of Jacksonville, FL who have underwritten the entire cost of this project for the past four years.