São Paulo, Brazil, July 12, 2022
“Only the altar is left,” says Fr. Paisios Dias of the Antiochian Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in São Paulo after a fire that broke out in a neighboring building spread to the church.
“Beyond the material value, what’s lost is the historical value,” he told g1.globo.com.
The church of Syrian-Lebanese origin is the oldest Orthodox church in Brazil. It was consecrated more than a century ago, in 1904. According to Fr. Paisios, more than 80% of the building was destroyed in the flames on Sunday.
They did manage to remove and save some icons, however, while the vestments were completely consumed by the flames.
The fire began on Sunday in a neighboring 10-story commercial building. Besides the church, it also spread to and partially destroyed a 6-story retail building that also belongs to the Antiochian Orthodox Church and at least one other ground-floor store. Two firefighters were also burned and had to be rescued.
The cause of the fire is as yet unknown.