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Artist creating sacred images in the dome of the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Utah

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Iconographer Dionysios Bouloubassis runs his hand along his painting of Jesus in the dome of the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Holladay on Thursday January 27. Bouloubassis uses the Macedonian style of iconography where the faces of saints tend to be round and painted in pink colors (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

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HOLLADAY — Members of the Greek Orthodox community in Utah recently hired an iconographer to create sacred imagery for the dome of the Church of the Prophet Elias in Holladay.

With each brushstroke – largely in golden paint – Dionysis Bouloubassis expresses both his talent and his faith.

Bouloubassis was trained in the art of iconography.

Painting by Dionysios Bouloubassis inside the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Holladay, Utah on January 27.
Painting by Dionysios Bouloubassis inside the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Holladay, Utah on January 27. (Photo: Derek Peterson, KSL-TV)

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he grew up in Greece and studied at an art school there.

“Every day, I pray with what I do. When I work, I feel that somehow I’m praying – it’s, I’ll say, it’s part of my job,” a- he declared.

The art of creating Christian icons goes back to the Byzantine and Orthodox tradition, as early as the third century. They are meant to be beautiful eye-catching depictions of divinity, apostles, prophets and holy women.

Father Patrick O’Rourke, associate priest of the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church, met with the church’s beautification committee a year ago to discuss new artwork for the dome at the inside the sanctuary. He discovered that they had enough money to pay for an amazing transformation.

“The building itself preaches the gospel. It tells us the story – when we are here, we are in heaven on earth. We are in heaven made of earth, which is our understanding of what Christ is. came and did for us — that he sanctified us with his presence.”

In order to create new art for the dome, the Greek Orthodox Church of Prophet Elias was closed for two months, the pews were moved and covered to protect them from dust, and the floor was covered with scaffolding.

Over the weeks, the artist meticulously unveiled his vision.


I feel and hope that what I do helps some people to come to church. What they read, what they pray, they can also see in the work. They can see the life of Christ.

–Dionysis Bouloubassis, iconographer


Bouloubassis does his job – well, think of Michelangelo – hanging about 70 feet on plywood that often moves when he does.

To get this high in the air, you ride on a scissor lift and then climb through a small opening. And through this small opening, even from the floor of the sanctuary, you can see a breathtaking picture – just a glimpse of the treasures to come.

Rarely does anyone get this close to sacred art in the dome of a Greek Orthodox church, other than the artist, but KSL photographer Derek Petersen and KSL arts and religion reporter Carole Mikita traveled to this dome to witness it for themselves.

Once the scaffolding is removed, the site from the sanctuary floor is magnificent.

Iconographer Dionysios Bouloubassis paints the dome of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Prophet Elijah in Holladay on Thursday, January 27.  The interior of the nave of the church is being renovated.
Iconographer Dionysios Bouloubassis paints the dome of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Prophet Elijah in Holladay on Thursday, January 27. The interior of the nave of the church is being renovated. (Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

The artist hopes to inspire others.

“I feel and hope that if what I do helps some people to come to church. What they read, what they pray, they can also see it in the work. They can see the life of Christ,” said Bouloubassis.

Father Patrick hopes the icons represent more than beautiful art. These sacred images are meant to connect faith through the ages.

“When people look up at the dome which has been empty for nearly 20 years, they will see the face of God, they will see the face of Christ – and this encounter will bring them closer to their own faith, to their own goals, to the grace of God,” he said.

Parishioners of the Greek Orthodox Church of Prophet Elias will return to worship services on Sunday, February 6 to view and celebrate this beautiful work of art.

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Carole Mikita

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