Holy Monastery of Panagia Kera in Crete – Greek City Times


Panagia Kera Monastery is located in Agios Nikolaos, 50 kilometers southeast of Heraklion in the Dikti Mountains.

Holy Monastery of Panagia Kera in Crete

The history of the monastery, legends and traditions concerning the miraculous icon of 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, 630 meters above sea level overlooking a valley.

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

Panagia Kera in Kritsa
The Church of Panagia Kera is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin.

The central aisle dedicated to the Virgin Mary contains the oldest paintings while the north aisle is dedicated to Agios Antonios and has several images depicting the Day of Judgment.

Many miracles have been 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 found its way back to the monastery.

During the Venetian rule the icon was stolen by a Greek trader and a few years later it was moved to the Temple of Saint Alphonsus on the Esquiline Hill in Rome.

In 1722, the monastery was completely renovated by the Managgaris family and became a Holy Cross church.

Today, the icon that adorns the monastery is only a copy of the original successfully painted in 1732 by an unknown artist and is believed to have the same miraculous attributes. The architecture of the monastery follows the Byzantine style with spiers and ceramic decoration.

Inside the church are frescoes dating from the 14th century and ancient icons. The well-preserved paintings of holy figures are mainly enhanced by the vivid colors which prove that the frescoes date back to Palaiologos art painting.

Panagia Kera in Kritsa

The current buildings and the 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 lodged and fed the inhabitants of the surrounding villages.

In 1822, a year after the start of the Greek liberation struggle, the monastery was burned 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 would have to be abandoned because there were not enough young monks.

Its conversion into a convent by the Archbishop of Crete has now ensured its survival.

The celebration of the consecration of the monastery takes place on September 8, however, thousands and thousands of people will also gather here every year on August 15.


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