Rectangular wood and cast lead printing block. The block is square-shaped. The print image is a circular seal with a solid outline encompassing an image of the globe. The outline contains Greek text, following the circle, that reads: "Holy Archdiocese North & South Americas." The image of the globe shows the North and South American continents. Superimposed over the globe is a modified Christian cross with a circle emcompassing the Chi-Rho at the intersection of the cross.
Donated by John Damianos. The printing block was used in a linotype printing machine. Linotype presses allowed for the casting of entire lines to be printed at a time. Linotype printing was eventually succeeded by lithograph printing and computer typesetting during the 1960's and 1970's. This printing block was used by the Chicago-based, Greek Art Printing Company. The printing block was used for the printing of various materials for the Second Diocesan District, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. Such materials included envelopes, Christmas cards, notepads, check reciepts from the district Welfare Fund, and programs for both the annual Vasilopetta ball and the Feast of Greek Letters. The emblem on the print block is that of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.The archdiocese was established by the Greek Orthodox Church in 1921 under the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople. The archdiocese was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Church of Greece in 1908, but was transferred back to the Church of Constantinople in 1922. The archdiocese was based out of New York City. In 1996 the Ecumenical Patriarchate divided up the administration of the archdiocese between four regions (America, Canada, Central America, and South America). The New York diocese now only administers the territory of the United States. The Christian cross is the most common symbol of christianity. The Chi-Rho symbol, or christogram, is a monogram formed out of the first two letters, Chi and Rho, of the Greek word for Christ. The Byzantine legend is that Emperor Constantine saw the chi-rho symbol in a dream prior to the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. In the dream, Constatine is said to have seen the symbol and heard a voice that said bearing the symbol would bring victory. When Constantine was victorious he legalized Christianity and made the Chi-Rho the official imperial seal. The Vasilopetta Ball is held for the benefit of Saint Basil's Orphanage in Garrison, New York. The ball was held by the Second Diocesan District and the Executive Council of Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptohos Societies of Greater Chicago. The Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society, Incorporated is the women's philanthropic society of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The mission of the Society is to: aid the needy, promote the charitable, benevolent, and philanthropic efforts of the Archdiocese, to promote and preserve the concepts of Orthodox Christianity and the Orthodox Christian family, and to promote participation in activities of the Greek Orthodox community. The Society was founded in 1931. St. Basil's Academy (Orphanage) is a children's home operated by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and is located in Garrison, New York. The Academy provides board and education for orphaned Greek Orthodox children or children whose parents are unable to sufficiently provide for them. The grammar school teaches bilingual curriculum for grades 1-9. The Academy is operated through contributions from the Archdiocese, but the funds raised by the Vasilopeta balls held by the Ladies Philoptochos Societies also cover a large part of the cost, as well as contributions from Sunday Schools, other organtizations, and individual donors. The Vasilopeta ball, St. Basil, and the holding of the balls in January are all tied together. Vasilopeta is a traditional New Year's Day bread or cake from the Balkans that is cut on New Year's Day in order to bring blessing and good fortune in the New Year. It is common for organizations and societies to cut the bread or cake at formal receptions or balls held between New Years and the beginning of Great Lent. Vasilopetta is associated with St. Basil through the popular legend that St. Basil called upon the populace of Caesarea to raise the funds to pay ransom to a besieging army. When the besiegers were presented with the ransom they were so embarrassed by the fact that it was raised through collective giving that they left the city without collecting the ransom. St. Basil was then left to return the money and jewelry to its owners, but with no way of knowing what belonged to whom. So he baked all the money and jewelry into loaves of bread and distributed it to the citizens and by miracle all the items were returned to the rightful owners. The Feast of Greek Letters is celebrated along with the Feast of the Three Heirarchs. The Feast of the Three Hierarchs, Saint Basil the Great, Saint Gregory the Theologian and Saint John Chrysostom, on January 30th, is celebrated in conjunction with the Greek Letters Day as the Church recognizes in them the superb combination of Hellenic language and culture with Orthodox Faith and life. The Three Hierarchs lived in the 4th century Byzantium, a time when the Church, after the edict of Mediolanum in 312, was free to express her faith in multiple ways. It was within this context that the Three Hierarchs produced their great works in the fields of theology, philosophy, rhetoric and education, superbly using and even enhancing the Greek language. The image is also used on paneled cards for the Philoptochos Society of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption in St. Louis, Missouri.
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