Panagia Keralimeniotissa Monastery

Deep in the valley of Faflagos, 200 metres above sea level, one can visit the monastery of Panagia (the Virgin) Keralimeniotissa, which is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin (Kimisi tis Theotokou). Entering the church nowadays, one only sees whitewashed walls. However, judging by traces of paint found underneath, the church was most likely previously decorated with frescoes; residents of the village of Kalami (to which the monastery belongs administratively), must have covered them with fresh paint out of ignorance, presumably believing they were beautifying it.

According to one tradition, the monastery was built by monks from the Monastery of Saint Procopius (Agios Prokopios), which they were forced to abandon, when it was destroyed by the Saracens. Its name itself is linked to a story that dates back to the Corsair years: 

Moroccan pirates embarked once at Faflagos, during one of their raids; as they proceeded inland, they reached the Monastery of the Virgin, which they plundered, stealing the treasures and enslaving the monks. However, several days passed and they were not able to set sail, due to persistent gale-force winds. At some point they were truly despaired, so they decided to release the monks and return the stolen treasures. All of a sudden, the wind subsided and thus they were able to depart. Thus, even the heathen pirates related the abrupt change in weather to Virgin Mary, whom they chose to revere thereafter themselves. Indeed, at some point they returned to the monastery, bringing along presents for the Virgin. Among these offerings was a silver model of a ship with an icon of the Virgin at the helm, and a dedication inscription that read: “To Our Lady of the Ports” (= Kera ton Limanion, in Greek), which in time was corrupted to Keralimaniotissa.

The monastery played an important role in the Cretan revolts. Locals from Kalami today see it as the most miraculous monastery of the region. A big festival takes place there every August 15th

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Additional Info

  • location Viannos, Viannos, Heraklio
  • type Abandoned Monastery
  • time period Various
  • site condition/facilities Open-Well preserved
  • relevant routes & paths
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