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The same tradition tells of Joachim, a wealthy livestock owner whose marriage to Anne did not produce offspring until late. This was regarded as a lack of heavenly blessing, resulting in Joachim's sacrifice being refused at the temple. Remembering the son granted to Abraham late in life, Joachim resolved to go into the desert and fast for forty days. An angel appeared and told him of the birth of his daughter, and he went to meet his wife at the "Golden Gate" of Jerusalem. The Carmelite Order celebrates, with special devotion its Saints, gathering in them the most living and genuine expression of the Charism and the spirituality of the Order throughout the centuries.

The feast of the Protectors of the Order is celebrated with special solemnity that is the feast of Saints Joseph, Joachim and Anne. As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God the contemplative dimension of life , through prayer, through fraternity, and through service diakonia. These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister.

For cultural reasons, they believed that the Church should be supported and enjoy privileges. The Church maintained its religious responsibilities, remained selfadministered and had the authority to resolve certain legal disputes among the Orthodox. The Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church in general ensured that the Orthodox maintained their faith — under Muslim rule, however. The preservation of religion is evident across the Kritsa region. Today there are three parishes: Hodegetria, St. Panteleimon and St. George at Harakitis. The local festivals are those of Panagia Kera 21 November , St.

Panteleimon 27 July , St. John the Theologian 26 September and St. George 23 April. Towards the end of Turkish rule, the large church of the Hodegetria started to be constructed; today it stands in an excellent condition. In Kritsa and the greater region, there are numerous Byzantine churches with rare wall paintings. The Church, as a spiritual institution, should stand close to man and his problems. It should be dynamically active, without staying on the sidelines and evading issues that fall within its jurisdiction.

Wise words by Leonidas Gialouris, vicar of the parish of the Hodegetria since Panagia Kera No.

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The plain of Kritsa is dominated by the Byzantine church of Our Lady Panagia Kera , a three-aisled domed basilica with murals of the 13thth centuries. The central aisle is dedicated to the Dormition of Virgin Mary, the southern aisle to St. Anne and the northern aisle to St. The exterior reminds of monuments dating in the period of Venetian rule.

The span roofs of the aisles and the simple, round dome in the middle of the central aisle are covered with tiles. Four small holes are the only openings in the crown of the dome, ensuring the ventilation of the church, and there are only two windows, on the western walls of the lateral aisles. They are horseshoe-shaped, with notched decoration.

Of similar shape is the entrance of the church between them, on the western wall of the central aisle. The church is flanked by six triangular buttresses. The interior of the church is a square of 10 X Its height up to the top of the dome is 4. The three aisles are topped with cylindrical arches, while the dome, which pierces the arch of the central aisle, is supported by four piers, which rest on four pendentives, which in turn are based on arcs. The walls separating the aisles are pierced by four arch-shaped openings of almost equal width and height. The pulpits of the aisles lie in front of the eastern piers, and their semi-circular arches, which have a small monolithic window, are covered by quadrants.

The southern wall of the southern aisle is pierced by four arches, which have been walled; the fourth arch serves as the southern entrance of the church. The church passed through successive building phases and is decorated with important wall-paintings of exquisite art, dating to the 13th century and the Palaeologan Renaissance of the early 14th century. In the aisle dedicated to St. Anne, one can see: St. Anne on the apse of the sanctum, St. Peter of Alexandria, St.

Gregory the Theologian, St. Athanasius, St. Anne, the Blessing of St. John the Hermit, St. Alexius the Man of God, St. Garias, St. Theodoulus, St. Zoticus, St. Theophano, St. Romanus the Deacon, St. Leo, St.

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Barbara, St. Cyriace, St. Irene, St. Mary the Egyptian. The first addition to the church was the southern aisle, dedicated to St. The southern aisle dates to the 14th century and the wall-paintings, among the most important on Crete, date to the Palaeologan Renaissance and belong to the Macedonian School, which is related to Mystras. Figures are painted in clear lines, with broad contours. There are 14 rectangular panels arranged in two registers, depicting scenes from the lives of St. In the apse one can see St. Anne in the form of the Platytera.

In the northern aisle, dedicated to St. Anthony, one can see: Christ Pantocrator on the apse of the sanctum, St. Symeon the Stylite, St. Macarius, St. Anthony, St. Eugene, St. Martyrius, St. Orestes, St. Anempodistus, the founders and their child in official costume of the time northern wall , St. Polychronia unique on Crete , St. George of Cosiba, St. Theodosius the Coenobiarch and a female saint in monastic habit probably St.

Paraskevi , who has been realistically rendered and reminds of modern women of Akritsa. For many centuries, Panagia Kera has been a local cult centre, a holy monastery and a resting place of the dead. Today it is supervised by the Inspectorate of Byzantine Antiquities and attracts many thousands of visitors every year, who study and admire its architecture and wall-paintings.

In the central aisle, dedicated to the Mother of God, one can see: On the apse of the sanctum, underneath the Virgin Platytera, the hierarchs St. Nicholas, St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Stephen the Deacon, St. Anne with Virgin Mary as a child, St. Andrew of Crete, St.

Mercurius, St. Peter and on the north-western wall the Catholic St. Francis of Assisi, an indication of the esteem that this saint enjoyed on Venetian-occupied Crete.

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On the lower register of the northern wall are depicted the founders of the aisle, a couple with their child. Anne, mother of Virgin 9. Anthony was renovated at the expense of Georgios Mazizanis, his wife and children. The shape of the letters, the themes and style of the murals allow us to date the construction to the 14th century. The 14th additions were supported by buttresses, which give the church its characteristic appearance.

John the Forerunner No. At the entry of the village, inside the old cemetery, lies the funerary church of St. John the Forerunner. The church was constructed during the time of Venetian rule. Its beautiful wall-paintings, dating to according to an inscription, were covered with plaster until recently; by now most of them have been uncovered. In the impressive painting of Hell, one can see Angels pushing the Devil, who is riding on the Dragon of the Deep, into the bottom of the Lake of Fire.

The damned stand in three rows, headed by two popes, followed by Franciscan monks, heretic bishops and emperors; at the top, a naked man seems to repent belatedly. Some of the paintings are of high artistic quality St. Anthony, the Annunciation, St. On the western wall, the scenes from Hell are the most impressive painting. On the part of the northern wall that is covered with murals, a window had once been opened.

The area around the church was initially used as a burial ground for people who distinguished themselves in revolutions. Later it became the cemetery of the village, after the villagers stopped burying their dead around the church of each neighbourhood of the village. For St. John the Forerunner, the given date is from the creation of the world, i.

The wall-paintings date in Its best wall-paintings match or surpass in quality those of Panagia Kera. John were painted in with the assistance of Ioannis Skordilis. Their style is realistic and they were created by some folk painter As is the case in all arch-covered churches without a dome, Christ Pantocrator is painted on the apse; however, in the church of St. The interesting scene of the hospitality offered by Abraham to three angels, which symbolises the Holy Trinity, is painted on the eastern wall, with the Annunciation of Virgin Mary lower, while the apse of the sanctum is decorated with hierarchs who celebrate Mass, flanked by deacons Stephen and Romanus.

From the evangelic cycle, the paintings uncovered so far include the Nativity of Christ on the arch, the Pentecost on the northern side and the Crucifixion and the Lamentation on the southern side. The interesting figure of St. Onuphrius, with a waistband of leaves, a beard reaching his legs, and his hands crossed before his chest, stands out among the full-length saints painted on the lateral walls. At the base of the arch, one can see the Annunciation of Zacharias, the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner, the Massacre of the Innocents and the patron saint of the church preaching to the people.


The scenes from Hell are very imaginative. The painter probably wanted to admonish the faithful by depicting a large variety of punishments of the worst sinners for the most dangerous passions. John Chrysostom N. At the centre of the village, in the neighbourhood named Christos, lies the church of St. John Chrysostom. It is one of the oldest parish churches of Kritsa. An inscription on marble gives the date for the construction of the church; a later date, , should refer to the renovation of the church.

In the courtyard there are graves dating to the period of Turkish rule. The church also has remarkable ecclesiastical vessels. John Chrystostom, also known as St.

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  4. John of Antioch, was born between and A. His parents were general Secundus and Anthousa. He was a major Christian bishop and preacher in the 4th and 5th centuries in Antioch and Constantinople and one of the most popular prelates. Exhausted by hardships, the excesses of ascetic life and ailments, he died on 14 September A. Aphentis Christos N. The church lies within the neighbourhood that bears the same name Christos.

    In , the neighbourhood had inhabitants. Due to its panoramic view, it has been called the acropolis of Kritsa. The church of Aphentis Christos Lord Jesus Christ has wall-paintings on the western part of the southern aisle: Virgin Mary enthroned with Christ and the Apostles, two saints on horseback George and Demetrius , one female saint 9. On the western wall, there is the full-length oversized figure of a youth, probably the founder. The given renovation date is , when changes were made to the building plan of the church. In the courtyard there were graves, among them two arched tombs that were destroyed when the exterior was re-arranged.

    The church obviously passed through three building phases the original construction, the renovation, probably by the Catholics for cult reasons, and a later one, when it functioned as a parish church. The cult icon of the Transfiguration and certain other wood-carved artefacts are expected to return to the church after their conservation is completed.

    This domed, two-aisled church should be dated to c. Its wall-paintings resemble those of the church of St. George Kavousotis. Archaeologist Bissinger dates the wall-paintings to c. The building phases of the church cannot be determined with accuracy. Its earliest morphological characteristics point to the early 13th century.

    In the 14th century additions were made, followed by renovation in the 16th century. According to an inscription on stone no longer extant , the church was renovated in by Georgios Mazizanis and Georgios Kontogiannis.

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    George at Harakitis No. In Christos neighbourhood lies the later church of St. George at Harakitis, built on a rock that affords a panoramic view of the village and the valley. It is a majestic church that impresses with its volume and broad spaces. Its construction was begun in the s by a group of youths from Kritsa. This 9. The foundation ceremony was held on 6 April , with the participation of priests Konstantinos Koutantos vicar , Konstantinos Pangalos and Ioannis Tavlas, and ecclesiastical councillors Ioannis M.

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    Pangalos, Emmanuel M. Karydis and Emmanuel Trantas. The icons of the old church of St. George around 30 were transported to the adjacent church of Aphentis Chistos, wherefrom they were removed three years ago for conservation. After its completion, the parishioners expect that they will return to the domed, three-aisled church of St.

    At the site of the church lay an old chapel, which was demolished 14 years after the foundation of the new church, in , by the then vicar, Emmanuel Paraskakis. Konstantinos Pangalos was succeeded as vicar by Ioannis Trantas, at the time of construction of the dome and plastering. The construction was sponsored by fundraising. The church was inaugurated on 8 October by Metropolitan Demetrius. Due to its position, it is the most imposing church in Kritsa and attracts many visitors.

    The three aisles are dedicated to St. Titus, St. George and SS Peter and Paul. George, known as the Trophy-Bearer in the Orthodox Church, is one of its most prominent saints. George is a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Orthodox Church and certain protestant confessions that worship saints. He was born between and A. His father was Gerontios, a Greek senator and general. The saint was martyred in prayer beheaded on Friday 23 April A. George Kavousotis N. It lies at the exit of the village, close to the church of St. John the Theologian, on the tarmac road to Kroustas, in Kavousi neighbourhood.

    The church took its name from the adjacent fountain kavousi , which lies to the right of the bridge, under the plain trees. George Kavousotis is a small arch-covered church of the 13thth century. It has noteworthy wall-paintings: Christ Pantocrator, frontal, with a severe expression, the hierarchs St. John Chrystostom, St. Basil and St. The church was decorated by two different artists in the 13thth centuries. One of them produced paintings of a high artistic quality. This important religious monument has suffered serious damage by moisture and cracks.

    At the exterior, to the left of the entrance, is embedded the tile-covered tomb of Papa-Pothos. Follows a description of the church of St. George Kavousotis, the wall-paintings were created by two artists with different styles. The arrangement of the scenes follows the established practice for Cretan oneaisled churches. The severe Pantocrator, the hierarchs celebrating Mass with two deacons, and the Holy Mandilion [face of Christ] between the two figures of the scene of the Annunciation of Virgin Mary decorate the apse and the eastern wall of the sanctum, while the arch is covered with the crowded composition of the Ascension, bordered on the west, as in the central aisle of Panagia Kera, by the full-length figures of prophets David and Solomon.

    Fulllength figures of hierarchs and saints, in strictly frontal posture, decorate the lateral walls of the sanctum, and busts of male and female saints in medallions are arranged in registers below. This stylistically integrated ensemble, including the prophets on the buttress and Virgin Mary on the northern anta, has been executed in a monumental style recalling that of the central aisle of Panagia Kera.

    However, the broader surfaces, fine gradations and green shades make the figures more lively. These wall-paintings should be dated to the turn of the 13th to 14th century. The second painter, who created the evangelical scenes of the Nativity, the Hypapante, the Raising of Lazarus and the Resurrection on the western part of the arch and the life of St. George lower continued on the western wall , has a more realistic style. The archangel that stands sentinel by the entrance impresses with his lively posture, just like St. George on horseback on the southern wall.

    On the road to Kroustas, in the Theologos quarter of Kritsa, 1. John the Theologian, with some extant relics of wall-paintings. The historic monastery used to run a clandestine school during Turkish rule, was a refuge of revolutionaries and provided moral and material support to the liberation wars. John is a miraculous saint and the locals venerate and honour him particularly.

    The church of St. John is a three-aisled basilica. The central aisle is dedicated to St. John the Theologian, the left aisle to St. Charalambos and the right aisle to the Transfiguration of Christ. This Byzantine monument has the bestpreserved wall-paintings and icons in Kritsa, dating between the 14th and 15th centuries, in the period of Venetian rule. Both the themes and the style of the murals are interesting.