The national religion is the Greek Orthodox faith, but the church of Crete is not under the Greek mainland church.|
It is an autonomous institution which owes its allegiance directly to the Patriarchate of Konstantinople.
The Greek clergy have always been associated with the political and national life of their people. During the years of Turkish occupation, for example, it was the Orthodox clergy who helped to keep the Greek’s identity and tradition alive.
On Crete the monks at the monasteries of Arkadi and Preveli took a truly active role in the islanders struggles.
Preveli also assisted the allied soldiers flee the island under the German occupation. Many monasteries also conducted ‘secret schools’ in which they taught the Greek language and heritage to the youngsters.
The priest or ‘papas’ in his stovepipe hat and flowing gown becomes a familiar figure in every village. They are permitted to marry, except if they intent to rise into the hierarchy or to enter a monastery.
Of the churches and chapels in Crete, many are tiny and perhaps positioned in very remote areas. They are used only one day of the year to commemorate a particular saint or the ‘name day’ of the donor. Others are very old and many of these house beautiful frescoes, icons and other works of art.
Beneath many of the icons you will notice silver and metal tags depicting parts of the body. These represent the afflicted part that a person wants cured or protected by the saint shown on the icon.
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Sites close to Matala
, Agia Galini
, Red Beach
, Vrontisi Monastery
, Agios Ioannis
, Preveli Monastery
, Asterousia Mountains
, Koudouma Monastery
, Matala Crete
, Knossos Palace
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