Holy Monastery of Panagia Kera in Crete

Holy Monastery of Panagia Kera in Crete

The monastery of Panagia Kera is located in Agios Nikolaos, 50 kilometres southeast of Heraklion in the Dikti Mountains.

Panagia Kera in Kritsa

The history of the monastery, the legends, and the traditions regarding the miraculous icon of the Theotokos attract many believers every year and make the monastery one of the most important religious places in Crete. The age of the monastery dates back to the 12th Century, but it is not known exactly when and by whom it was founded.

The first written record dates from 1415.

It is located in a remarkable setting, high in the mountains, at an altitude of 630 meters, overlooking a valley.

The church of Panagia Kera is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin.

Panagia Kera in Kritsa

The central aisle dedicated to the Virgin Mary contains the oldest paintings, while the north aisle is dedicated to Agios Antonios and has several pictures representing Judgment Day. Many miracles were associated with the icon of Panagia Kera. According to tradition, during the Byzantine period of Iconoclasm, the icon of Panagia was transferred to Constantinople, but it found its way back to the monastery. During the Venetian domination, the icon was stolen by a Greek trader and a few years later, it was moved to the temple of Saint Alfonso on Esquiline Hill in Rome.

In 1722, the Managgaris family fully renovated the monastery, which became a Holy Cross church. Today, the icon that adorns the monastery is only a copy of the original, which was successfully painted in 1732 by an unknown artist. It is believed that it has the same miracle attributes. The monastery's architecture follows the Byzantine style, with arrows and ceramic decoration.

Inside the church are frescoes dating back to the 14th century and old icons. The well-preserved paintings of the holy figures are mostly highlighted by the vivid colours, which prove that the frescoes date back to the art painting of Paleologian.

Panagia Kera in Kritsa

The present buildings and monastic cells were built between 1960 and 1970.

After the conquest of Crete by the Turks (1669), the monastery was a place of refuge for the insurgents and housed and catered for the people from the surrounding villages.

In 1822, a year after the start of the Greek liberation struggle, the monastery was burnt down by the Turks. The same thing happened about 20 years later, after the Cretan revolt of 1841. In the 20th Century, there was a danger that the monastery had to be abandoned because there were not enough young monks.

Its conversion to a nunnery by the Archbishop of Crete has now secured its survival.

The monastery's consecration celebration is on September 8th; however, thousands upon thousands will also gather here every year on August 15th.

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024