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October 20, 2017

The Unknown Church of Saint Gerasimos the New Ascetic in Aroni of Crete

Akrotiri of Chania in Crete has the highest density of churches from various eras of history, and these are mostly well known and attract visitors due to their history and their particular architecture. Others however are not as well known, and some are totally unknown. This does not mean they do not have their own history, but instead their history is not widely known. One of these churches is that of Saint Gerasimos in Aroni. A reason this church is often overlooked, is because it is a relatively new church. Yet it is an important church, which is in fact built over an older church dedicated to Saint Gerasimos.

The older church dedicated to Saint Gerasimos was probably destroyed during the many wars and revolutions that have taken place on the island of Crete and it is now forgotten. And it is no accidental choice that this particular Saint is honored here. In fact, in the northern part of Chania, we meet almost all of the shrines dedicated to Saint Gerasimos in Crete, while they are not found on the rest of the island at all. The reason is that at an early age Saint Gerasimos spent two years of his life in a cave in the village of Modi in Chania long before leaving for Kephallonia where his reputation was spread. Therefore another church of the Saint in the village of Aroni shows how well known was the Saint in the area of ​​Chania and how the inhabitants kept alive the memories of his journey there.

The present church stands leaning on a beautiful oak among the last houses of the village, and next to the church we find in good condition an old threshing floor, remains of older times when each village of Crete struggled for its own self-sufficiency in grain. Inside this splendid church is dominated by the icons of Saint Gerasimos, while outside the church a number of benches welcome the guests on the day the church celebrates.