June 22, 2021

A Remote Church in Crete Dedicated to the Holy Spirit Dating Back to the Venetian Occupation (1590)

The Church of the Holy Spirit, at the entrance of the valley of Avgo, opposite the impressive gorge of Mesona, was during the Venetian occupation a katholikon of a small Orthodox monastery.

It dates back to 1590, as stated by the inscription, now covered by lime, above the door of its only entrance.

It was built at a time when there was an impressive increase in the number of monasteries in Crete due to the milder attitude of the Venetians towards the Orthodox population. Foreseeing ahead of time the attack of the Ottomans, they wanted to have the Orthodox Cretans close and so they made brave concessions towards them.

The church is one-room with a peculiar coverage, not from an arch that is common in churches, but from a gabled roof. Inside, no evidence of frescoes can be found. It is as simple as most churches we find in remote places, far from settlements.

Outside, at the western end of the church and next to its entrance, we see an arcosolium where the founder of the church or a person from the small monastery that liturgized at the site may have been buried.

At the top of the arch, in the western part of the church, there is a built base for a bell tower which, however, was never placed.

To the south of the church, on a lower level and around the ravine, are preserved the ruins of a series of ground floor stone buildings, with an oven and a water cistern that was supplied by the nearby Savaneli spring.

Some of them may have been the facilities of the monastery. Until the mid-1950s, the area around the church was full of gardens and these buildings were seasonally inhabited by cultivators.

The church celebrates on the feast of the Holy Spirit, which is the Monday after Pentecost, gathering believers from Kavousi who honor the lonely church and never forget it on such a day.