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29 Jul 2021

Celebrating the Feast of St Mary Magdalene in Izmir

The Revd James Buxton, Chaplain at Izmir, shares this story with us:

On Wednesday evening, 21 July, we celebrated the Eve of the Feast of St Mary Magdalene, at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Bornova, in a service of Choral Evensong.

Guests included the Martin Kmetec, the new Roman Catholic Archbishop of Izmir; Zekai Tanyer, founder of Turkey’s oldest indigenous Protestant Church, and senior British officers and their families from  NATO Land Forces HQ in Izmir. The service was Evensong from the Book of Common Prayer.  This would once have been a mainstay of worship at Bornova, but rummaging through the church register it is obvious that this service has not taken place for many decades!   

Featuring some beautiful stained-glass images of St Mary Magdalene, the church windows were commissioned from prestigious English stained-glass studios (Kemp and Clayton and Bell). They were all installed in around 1900 and most probably shipped over from England with the men who installed them, as this requires great expertise. Without question, they are the finest set of stained-glass windows in Izmir, and as far as we know, in Turkey! 

As well as the joy of worshipping together in our church (with appropriate health and safety measures in place!), the occasion provided a chance for congregants to see the church interior following several months of painstaking restoration work.  The church walls have been damaged over the years by water ingress, vandalism and theft of memorial brasses, leaving a lot of stains and marks.  The church is very grateful to the Whittall family fund, and especially to Brian Giraud (direct descendent of those who built the church in 1857) for supporting this on-going work.  We are also grateful to Murat Patur the restorer, who has been able to recreate the original faux marble effect. 

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You can find out more about the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Izmir on their chaplaincy website here: St. John the Evangelist and St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Churches izmiranglican.org