The Friends of Mount Athos


Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia

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Pilgrimage to the Monasteries of Western Crete: 20 - 28 October, 2018

20 to 28 October 2018

Following the highly successful pilgrimages to France (2002), Greece (2004), Romania (2005), Finland (2006), Turkey (2007), Egypt (2008), the Black Sea (2009), Russia (2010), Georgia (2011), Serbia (2012), Armenia/West Georgia (2013), Aegean Turkey/Dodecanese Islands (2014), The Holy Land (2015), Cyprus (2016), and Northern Serbia (2017), the society is now facilitating a fifteenth excursion, this time to the beautiful Greek island of Crete The event will be for nine days (including travel) from Saturday 20 October till Sunday 28 October 2018. Team leader will be Metropolitan Kallistos. The maximum number of participants will be around 35 and the cost (excluding flights) for accommodation, meals, guides, and domestic transportation will be around £1500/1650 (depending on the number of participants and the state of the pound).

Crete is an extraordinary and magnificent Mediterranean island formed of spectacular landscapes, mountain ranges, gorges and beaches. It shoulders a rich history, dating from the Bronze Age (Minoan civilisation); over the centuries the island was occupied by Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Venetians, and Ottomans. Each has left its mark on the trajectory of Crete’s life.

Monastic life thrives on the island and we shall visit significant communities, both monks and nuns, that preserve both Athonite and local traditions. In Kolymbari we shall be shown the Orthodox Academy of Crete where last year a major Council of most Orthodox primates assembled. One monastery that stands out is the Convent of the Life-Creating Spring near to Chania . In 1976 it was inhabited by a community of nuns who energetically foster the arts of icon painting, ecclesiastic embroidery, stone carving, book binding and bee keeping. The sisters also insist on growing crops using organic farming methods. They have hosted conferences on Orthodoxy and Ecology and published monographs on the subject.

Another interesting coenobion, this time closer to Heraklion, is the Monastery Panagia Kalyviani, built on the ruins of an older monastic complex where, in 1873, an icon of the Mother of God was found. This foundation offers help and charity to the poor and needy. Moreover, in and near its grounds, the fathers founded a Christian Foundation comprising an orphanage, a hospice, a housekeeping school for girls, an elementary school, a kindergarten, summer camp facilities, weaving workshops, knitting and sewing vestments, etc. Crete is blessed with many such houses of prayer.

Eighty years ago the island was savagely overtaken by Nazi forces; there are still many alive today who suffered ruthlessly in the notorious “Battle of Crete”. If we are fortunate we may meet some of these people and hear their stories. Preserved in Chania is one of Europe’s oldest synagogues (14th century), the Etz Hayyim (‘Tree of Life’: Genesis 2,9).

Wine, music, food, song and dance are unique and celebrated on Crete; we shall have opportunities to sample all.

Those interested please contact me (Dimitri Conomos) at