CreteTravel.com

  • Region : Crete
  • Prefecture: Rethimno
  • Municipality : Foinix

The monastery consists of two main building complexes, the Lower (Kato) Monastery of Saint John the Baptist and the Rear (Pisso) Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, which is in operation today.

The Monastery has a glorious history due to the active and leading involvement of its fellow monks in all national endeavourers for freedom and education of our people.

Thus, it merits specific recognition and respect throughout the island of Crete.

The oldest date related to the monastery is 1594, and it is engraved on a bell of the monastery. The monastery was probably founded during the Venetian occupation by a feudal lord known as Prevelis.

When in 1649 the Turks occupied Crete, they destroyed numerous church establishments, among them the monastery of Preveli.

The monastery was for three centuries the most important center due to its leading role in the local society of Saint Vassilios and Sfakia provinces, where due to the landscaping territory the Turkish occupation force allowed a peculiar system of political tolerance and a limited state of freedom.

The Monastery of Preveli is a religious center and consequently the place of gathering and social contact of the population.

The role of the Monastery in the world war II 

The events of the heroic battle of Crete in May 1941 are well known, when the Germans forces met fierce opposition from the Allied Armies and the people of the island.

The Monastery of Preveli, desiring to be faithful to its traditions and having no other way to give help, arranged on a daily basis supplies for the Allied army and the locals during the battle in Perivolia, on the outskirts of Rethymno. However, the seizure of Maleme airport in Chania and the advance of the German forces throughout Crete resulted in the evacuation of most of the Allied troops and the departure of the remnants of the Greek Army to the Middle East.

Nevertheless a large number of English, New Zealand and Australian soldiers remained on the island because they had no means of getting away.

Although the occupying forces ordered very harsh reprisals against the local population if they provided shelter to these remaining Allied troops, the Monastery of Preveli and the neighbouring villages became for many of them a place of safe shelter and a point from which they could escape.

The monks and the local people organized themselves into groups to guard the area, to care for and protect the Allied soldiers who were  dispersed in hideouts known only to the locals, where it was not possible for the Germans to track them down, even after constant searching.

Immediately a committee was formed from the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages under the chairmanship of Abbot Agathangelos Lagouvardos to deal secretly with the problems and the expenses of safeguarding the soldiers and that committee continued its work right till the end of the occupation of Greece.

The Holy Monastery of Preveli, to mark the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Crete, has undertaken the responsibility to erect privately and under its supervision, an international memorial dedicated to peace and remembrance. The Memorial has been erected on the monastery's own land, on a site with a stunning panoramic view, overlooking the Libyan sea.

To help raise money for the upkeep of the memorial a cookery book has been produced. The book contains recipes contributed by people from all over the world - people for whom Crete is a special place, and who, in common with the fighters Tom Dunbabin and Geoff Edwards, who had the idea for the erection of a memorial at Preveli, value the courage and kindness of the Cretan people in sheltering and aiding the allied troops.

The Museum 

A substantial number of icons is kept in the Monastery of Preveli. The icons compose interesting themes, covering a period from the first half of the 17th to the end of 19th century approximately, an era that the good tradition of Crete has been interrupted by the Turkish conquest.

The painters continue the tradition of the late Cretan school of painting, turning equally into account the austere orthodox tendency as well as the copper painting of the masters of the first half of 17th century in Rethymno and Chania, influenced by the western ones, mainly the Flemish.

The choices made in the selection of the various themes of the icons, indicates a good level of culture of the monks - who purchased these at the end of 19th century, considering the distance from the urban centers and the isolation of the area.

The Following Collections Can Be Seen In The Small Museum At The Monastery

Collection of icons.

Collection of ecclesiastical garments.

Collection of ecclesiastical vessels.

Collection of heirlooms.

CreteTravel.com thanks Preveli.org for contributing information and some photos about the Preveli Monastery. Learn more about the Preveli Monastery on www.preveli.org and support the erection of the Battle of Crete Memorial (Preveli project). 

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