(Source: Greek-Australian Vema – August 2012)
Steve Negroponte had donated a 153 years old icon of St Nicholas to the Church of Sts Constantine and Helene in Perth, WA. This beautiful icon has been framed and is located at the entrance of the Church on an icon stand. Below is a brief outline, prepared by Mr Negroponte, informing us on how the icon came into his possession.
“In 1922 my grandmother, Policarpina Cappadona (nee Piccinini), lived with her family in Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey). My grandfather was a train driver employed by the British Colonial Railway Company that serviced the line from Smyrna to Aydin (Turkey) and Denizli (Turkey) in Anatolia. They survived the Great Fire in 1922 by taking refuge in a Franciscan Church. After the fire, all Europeans who wanted to stay were able to.
“The newly installed Turkish Government settled them in whatever housing was left after the fire which was previously occupied by Greek or Armenian families; this is how the icon of St Nicholas came into my grandmother’s possession.
“Being a very devout Christian my grandmother felt responsible in taking care of the icon – in case it came into the wrong hands. After a few years all jobs held by Europeans were allocated to Turkish Nationals and the Europeans who did not wish to take up Turkish citizenship were asked to leave. As Italy was my grandparents’ country of origin, the Italian Government allocated them to Rhodes as at that time the island was under Italian rule. It was on the island of Rhodes that I was born.
“In 1943 during the bombardment by the British we had to leave Rhodes and go to Italy as refugees. Here we found ourselves worse off as the war had arrived on the mainland. My grandmother always believed that St Nicholas protected her.
“In 1955 my grandmother passed the icon onto her eldest daughter Teresa Negroponte (my mother) who was likewise a very devout Christian. That year my uncle, Antonio Cappadona, sponsored us to come to Australia. The icon came with us and always held a very revered place in our home. Prior to my mother’s passing away in 2004, she passed the icon onto me where it has been ever since. As my wife and I are getting on in years we thought it best to retire St Nicholas from his many travels to a significant and rightful place – in a Greek Orthodox Church.
“The icon has been painted by an unknown iconographer in Smyrna in 1859. The icon of St Nicholas has been cared for by our family from 1922 and now the Negroponte family consigns the icon to the parish of Sts Constantine and Helene. May it bring joy to your parishioners for many years to come”.
*** The Parish of Sts Constantine and Helene would like to thank Mr Negroponte for donating this beautiful icon to our Church.