Kyria ton Angelon (Our Lady of the Angels)

Kyria ton Angelon in Rethymno prefecture is probably the oldest operating church in the city of Rethymno in the Old Town and, particularly, on Nikiforou Foka street (Makri Steno=Long Alley).

It is also known as Mikri Panagia (Little Virgin Mary) to distinguish it from the Megali Panagia, the metropolitan church of the city. The Kyria ton Angelon was built by the Order of the Dominicans in the late Venetian period and it was dedicated to Mary Magdalene. During the first years of the Ottoman rule, the church remained Christian for the religious needs of the Christian community, but later, the Turks turned it into a mosque (Angebout Ahmet Pasha mosque) adding, in 1680, a minaret that soon would collapse, acquiring a nick-name “koutsotroulis” (=limping dome). From 1917 onwards, it was operating as a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary of the Greek Orthodox.

The church of Kyria ton Angelon is a three-nave basilica without a dome, the bell tower was a later addition. Inside the church there was the icon “Virgin Mary Undefiled”, which later was moved to the Megali Panagia. This icon was worshipped by the Muslims of Rethymno as well. The icon of Saint Great Martyr Govdelaas Polyathlos from Persia on the left side of the church is of particular interest.

The folklore tradition says that, while the forces were preparing for the Minor Asia campaign, a soldier saw in his dream a woman dressed in black who insisted on finding the image of the Virgin. He mentioned this to his superiors and, when they searched the spot that the woman indicated, they found an icon of Panagia Odigitria (of She who Leads) dating back to 1850. The icon can be seen today at the right icon stand of the church.

The church of Kyria ton Angelon feasts on a day of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, on March 25th.

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