My husband and I follow him into the big, dilapidated white barn that is part of Holy Ascension Monastery on Cold Brook Road at the outer end of Bearsville. In the long field beyond the barn, construction is about to begin on a church that will be a replica of the famed Hagia Sophia cathedral in Istanbul — but one-fifth the size of the massive original. The Town of Woodstock granted the Greek Orthodox monastery a building permit on November 30.
Father Philaret — the name means “love of virtue” in Greek — kneels beside a frame of candles, pulling strips of beeswax off the outside of the frame. “This is how we support ourselves,” he says. They sell the candles to cathedrals in New York City and Chicago, rather than in local stores because they don’t want to compete with the candle shop in Woodstock.