July 16th, 2024

Shrine to world peace created in river bottom

By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on September 22, 2023.

Herald photo by Steffanie Costigan Michael Petrakis artist of the World Peace Shrine and Sancturary, at right, and Jose Mario Fonseca Villar, at left, meditate in the centre of the installation located in the city's river valley.

A “World Peace Shrine and Sanctuary” created in the city’s river valley has the community buzzing with curiosity.

The “World Peace Shrine and Sanctuary” is entitled “The Mirror” and was created by Michael Petrakis who is originally from Greece. He said in an interview this week that his offering of peace is for all members of the community.

“This is a gift and a peace offering to the peoples of Lethbridge, the Blackfoot Confederacy, and all the peoples of the world,” said Petrakis.

Petrakis voiced his struggle to find the right words to express his vision and the shrine is the outcome of his expression.

“I’ve been trying to find words to communicate some things in my life, about world peace and things that I’ve seen things that I’ve been shown. And this is me not being able to find the words.”

It took Petrakis three-and-a-half months to create what he refers to as a shrine. He expressed what the shrine’s purpose is and the symbolism behind it.

“This is a lot of things functionally and symbolically. It is a technology and it’s alive, it’s a library. Because all the people who’ve come here, they offer their blessings, they offer their prayers, and they offer their teachings as well. So, this is a gift for the community.”

Petrakis said a website is being constructed and will be titled “WorldPeaceShrine.Love”.

“One key message that I think is important is that the name of “The Mirror” be shared. I’m not sure how to introduce it. But that is something that will allow for everyone to understand how there’s something in it for everyone,” said Petrakis.

“I wish to invite everyone to respond to: Would you like to see everyone in Lethbridge, and the world, invited to participate in a World Peace Art Challenge, as part of establishing a World Peace Day? On the first day of every month, so as to inspire all generations, past, present and future.”

Residents were invited to the first official monthly World Peace Day, on Oct. 1 for a morning to night celebration.

Petrakis noted the process of experiencing the shrine.

“This is a reconciliation device. It helps you by walking the shrine, it helps you cultivate clarity, release the past and kind of a renewal process. You walk around the outside here and you kind of familiarize yourself with the space and then you enter in.”

Petrakis noted the shrine is not yet completed and invites interested community members the opportunity to participate in furthering its creation.

“I’d like to say that this is one per cent complete. And my mission was to complete one per cent and to show what is possible with just one person and a little help, and a lot of help from up there and in there in the Great Spirit. And the 99 per cent would be open for the community to co-create.”

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John P Nightingale

A worthy and heartfelt addition to the river valley. A spiritual place immune to the partisanship often associated with certain religions. A labour of love!