South Boston’s St. John the Baptist Church a total loss

Saint John the Baptist Albanian Orthodox Church

Damage caused by the five-alarm fire that engulfed Saint John the Baptist Albanian Orthodox Church here has been estimated at $1 million.

The fire — first reported shortly after 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 — shot through the roof, which subsequently collapsed.  Firefighters from at least six ladder trucks fought the blaze for five hours.  No one was in the building at the time.

Structural engineers are expected to assess the church today.

“At about 10:15 a.m., I went to the site from our chancery while the fire was still raging,” said Archpriest Arthur Liolin, Chancellor of the Albanian Archdiocese of the Orthodox Church in America.  “Most nearby streets were blocked off due to the blaze.  Nonetheless, I was escorted around the structure by the Boston Fire Marshall and the official Investigative representative from the City of Boston.  Thereafter, I met with several parishioners, to whom we offered assistance.

“The altar area is hand-carved wood and gold leaf with hand-painted icons,” Father Arthur continued.  “It is a very beautiful church. It would touch your heart.”

The church, which dates to the early 1800s, was purchased by the parish in the 1930s.

“Father John Scollard, the parish’s rector, called and requested if he could have a Liturgy in our Cathedral Chapel this Sunday and meet with his parishioners,” Father Arthur said.  “Archbishop Nikon gave his blessing and, of course, we will welcome them to do so.”

While the precise cause of the blaze has yet to be determined, Father Arthur said that the church is a total loss.  “Alas, our spiritual homes are very special places that nourish our souls.  Indeed, we do take a lot for granted.”

Additional information will be forthcoming as it is received.  In the meantime, prayers for the clergy and faithful of Saint John’s parish are deeply appreciated.