Saint Photios Chapel and Shrine

by: editors

Saint Photios Chapel and Shrine on St George Street in St. Augustine is a special place for those who are ancestors of Roque Leonardi. It was in this same building in the upper room, tradition holds, that Fr. Pedro Camps celebrated Mass with the survivors of the Andrew Turnbull colony in New Smyrna, FL. It’s quite possible then, Roque Leonardi stood in this building with his family.

Fr. Camps arrived in St Augustine from New Smyrna in November of 1777. There he began a new parish, the only one in St. Augustine at the time, on the ground floor of a residence by the city gates and called it San Pedro (Saint Peter). It’s interesting to note that Fr. Camps named both the Parish in New Smyrna and this new Chapel in St. Augustine after his namesake.

He made the following entry in his Golden Book:

On the 9th day of November 1777, the church of San Pedro was translated from the settlement of Mosquito to the city of Saint Augustine, with the same colony of Mahonese Minorcans which was established in the said settlement, and the same parish priest and Missionary Apostolic, Dr. Dn. Pedro Camps. (Dr. Pedro Camps, Parish Priest.)

Panagopoulos notes: “Fr. Pedro Camps. . . established a Roman Catholic church on the second floor of a house on St. George Street, next to a building subsequently called the “Spanish Inn.” It was also known as the “Greek Church,” or “the Church of the Mahonese,” and sometimes “the Minorcan chapel.”” (New Smyrna, p. 174)

There are “memorials” in the historical exhibit inside St Photios Shrine. These memorials are documents signed by the survivors of New Smyrna pledging their loyality to the Spanish Government of Florida. Roque Leonardi’s name appears on the memorial signed by 29 Greeks and Italians as Roco Leonardy.

Follow this link to visit the website for the beautiful shrine of St Photios.

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