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The Church of Panagia Kera in Kritsa, Lassithi Crete: Very close to the mountainous village of Kritsa is the old Byzantine church of Panagia Kera. This is one of the most important churches in Crete, located in a remarkable setting, high in the mountains of Dikte, at an altitude of 630 meters overlooking a valley. The church of Panagia Kera, for which there is no reliable founding date, is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin.
The central aisle dedicated to Virgin Mary contains the oldest paintings while the north aisle is dedicated to Agios Antonios and has several pictures representing the Judgment Day. Many miracles were associated with the icon of Panagia Kera. According to tradition, during the Byzantine period of Iconoclasm, the icon of Panagia was transferred to Istanbul but it found its way back to the monastery.
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The year 1498, during the Venetian domination, the icon was stolen by a Greek trader and a few years later it was moved to the temple of Saint Alfonso on Esquiline Hill, in Rome. In 1722, the monastery was fully renovated by Managgaris family and it became a Holy Cross church. Today, the icon which adorns the monastery is only a copy of the original that was successfully painted in 1732 by an unknown artist and it is believed that it has the same miracle attributes.
The architecture of the monastery follows the Byzantine style with arrows and ceramic decoration. Inside the church are frescoes dating back to the 14th century and old icons. The well-preserved paintings of the holy figures are mostly highlighted by the vivid colors which prove that the frescoes date back to the art painting of Paleologian Renaissance.
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