Rethymno Antifonitria Monastery

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Location: Miriokefala

The Monastery of Virgin Mary Antifonitria in Miriokefala, Rethymnon Crete: The Monastery of Virgin Mary (Panagia) Antifonitria is located in Miriokefala, a small mountainous village 29 km southwest of Rethymnon Town, in the borders between the prefectures of Rethymnon and Chania. It is said that this monastery was founded in the 11th century by Saint John Xenos or Hermit, who has also founded many other monasteries around Crete. According to tradition, the monastery was established after Saint John heard a voice coming from a bush in that spot going Here I am! Here I am!. Under that bush, he found an icon of the Virgin Mary, which was said to be miraculous. From this incident, the monastery was named Antifonitria, meaning she who shouts.

The monastery flourished in that era and it was decorated with frescoes in the 11th and the 12th century. In fact, it is said that Saint John brought to the monastery ecclesiastical equipment and valuable relics from Constantinople, after the authorization of the Emperor and the Patriarch, but nothing has survived till today. During the conquest of Crete by the Ottomans, the monastery declined and eventually stopped its operation in 1900. Today, only the katholikon of the monastery survives, dedicated to Virgin Mary, and some ruins of the walls and the monk cells around it. This katholikon is used as the main church of the village of Miriokefala and it celebrates on September 8th.

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