Paliani Monastery

Paliani Monastery

The Paliani Monastery is near and under Venerato of the Heraclion municipality and is one of the oldest monasteries in Crete. The female monastery is from the First Byzantine Era and was referred by the names “Palaia”, “Palai” and “Pala”, from which the today’s name came.

In the beginning of the 14th century, the monastery was taken by the Latin Archbishop of Crete in spite of the Patriarch’s effort to keep it under the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Pope Clement the 4th was also interested in the monastery due to its large landed property.

In 1826 the building of the church began in the place where a desolated temple was. The monastery was seriously damaged by Turks during the 1821 Greek Revolution and many nuns had been massacred. The only one that survived was the nun Parthenia that helped in the rebuilding of the temple. The monastery was a Turkish target and so, in 1866, they burnt it and destroyed or sold the icons.

It is said that the icon of the Panagia (i.e. Virgin Mary) Mirtidiotissa was found in the root of the large myrtle in the south-east of the church. It is also said that the icon is surrounded by the trunk of the myrtle and can be seen only by children. “Agia Mirtia”, as the tree is called, is thought as holly and its leaves are used for smoking, as herbs and as amulets as they are believed to be therapeutic.

The temple of the monastery has three aisles and is dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God, Agios Panteleimonas and the Three Hierarchs. The chapel of Agioi Apostoloi is also in the north of the central temple.

The monastery is not cenobitic and the nuns earn their living by the textiles that they made and dispose in the permanent exhibition in the monastery.