Sunday, January 27, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog: Pilgrimage, Acts 22:2-16, Psalms 117:1-2, Mark 16:15-18, January 25th Medjugorje Marian Message, Saint Peter Thomas, Crete Greece, Catholic Catechism Chapter 2:3-II I know Whom I have Believed

Friday, January 25, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog:

Pilgrimage, Acts 22:2-16, Psalms 117:1-2, Mark 16:15-18, January 25th Medjugorje Marian Message, Saint Peter Thomas, Crete Greece, Catholic Catechism Chapter 2:3-II I know Whom I have Believed

Good Day Bloggers!  Happy Mardi Gras!
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week!

Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Purgatory and/or Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


January 25, 2013 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
"Dear children! Also today I call you to prayer. May your prayer be as strong as a living stone, until with your lives you become witnesses. Witness the beauty of your faith. I am with you and intercede before my Son for each of you. Thank you for having responded to my call."
January 02, 2013 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
 "Dear children, with much love and patience I strive to make your hearts like unto mine. I strive, by my example, to teach you humility, wisdom and love because I need you; I cannot do without you my children. According to God's will I am choosing you, by His strength I am strengthening you. Therefore, my children, do not be afraid to open your hearts to me. I will give them to my Son and in return, He will give you the gift of Divine peace. You will carry it to all those whom you meet, you will witness God's love with your life and you will give the gift of my Son through yourselves. Through reconciliation, fasting and prayer, I will lead you. Immeasurable is my love. Do not be afraid. My children, pray for the shepherds. May your lips be shut to every judgment, because do not forget that my Son has chosen them and only He has the right to judge. Thank you."

December 25, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
Our Lady came with little Jesus in her arms and she did not give a message, but little Jesus began to speak and said : “I am your peace, live my commandments.” With a sign of the cross, Our Lady and little Jesus blessed us together.

December 2, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
Dear children, with motherly love and motherly patience anew I call you to live according to my Son, to spread His peace and His love, so that, as my apostles, you may accept God's truth with all your heart and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then you will be able to faithfully serve my Son, and show His love to others with your life. According to the love of my Son and my love, as a mother, I strive to bring all of my strayed children into my motherly embrace and to show them the way of faith. My children, help me in my motherly battle and pray with me that sinners may become aware of their sins and repent sincerely. Pray also for those whom my Son has chosen and consecrated in His name. Thank you." 


Today's Word:  pilgrimage   pil·grim·age  [pil-gruh-mij]

Origin: 1200–50; Middle English pilegrimage  (see pilgrim, -age); replacing earlier pelrimage,  alteration of Old French pelerinage

1. a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion: a pilgrimage to Lourdes. 
2. any long journey, especially one undertaken as a quest or for a votive purpose, as to pay h. omage: a pilgrimage to the grave of Shakespeare.
verb (used without object)
3. to make a pilgrimage.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Psalms 117:1, 2

1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh, all nations, extol him, all peoples,
2 for his faithful love is strong and his constancy never-ending


Today's Epistle -   Acts 22:3-16

3 'I am a Jew', Paul said, 'and was born at Tarsus in Cilicia. I was brought up here in this city. It was under Gamaliel that I studied and was taught the exact observance of the Law of our ancestors. In fact, I was as full of duty towards God as you all are today.
4 I even persecuted this Way to the death and sent women as well as men to prison in chains
5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify. I even received letters from them to the brothers in Damascus, which I took with me when I set off to bring prisoners back from there to Jerusalem for punishment.
6 'It happened that I was on that journey and nearly at Damascus when in the middle of the day a bright light from heaven suddenly shone round me.
7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
8 I answered, "Who are you, Lord?" and he said to me, "I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting."
9 The people with me saw the light but did not hear the voice which spoke to me.
10 I said, "What am I to do, Lord?" The Lord answered, "Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told what you have been appointed to do."
11 Since the light had been so dazzling that I was blind, I got to Damascus only because my companions led me by the hand.
12 'Someone called Ananias, a devout follower of the Law and highly thought of by all the Jews living there,
13 came to see me; he stood beside me and said, "Brother Saul, receive your sight." Instantly my sight came back and I was able to see him.
14 Then he said, "The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Upright One and hear his own voice speaking,
15 because you are to be his witness before all humanity, testifying to what you have seen and heard.
16 And now why delay? Hurry and be baptised and wash away your sins, calling on his name."


Today's Gospel Reading -  Mark 16:15-18

And he said to them, 'Go out to the whole world; proclaim the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.'

• The signs which accompany the proclamation or announcement of the Good News. And finally Jesus appears to the eleven disciples and reproached them because they had not believed the persons who had seen him Risen. Once again, Mark refers to the resistance of the disciples to believe in the witness of those, men and women, who had made an experience of the Resurrection of Jesus. Why would this be so? Probably, in order to teach two things. In the first place, that faith in Jesus goes through the faith in persons who give witness. Second, that nobody should get discouraged, when incredulity comes from the heart. Finally, the eleven disciples had doubts!

Then Jesus gives them the mission of announcing the Good News to all creatures. The requirement which he indicates is the following: to believe and to be baptized. To those who had the courage to believe in the Good News and who are baptized, he promises them the followings signs: they will cast out devils, they will have the gift of tongues, they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison, they will lay their hands on the sick who will recover. 

This happens up until now:
- To cast out devils; is to fight against the force of evil which destroys life. The life of many persons has improved for having entered a community and for having begun to live the Good News of the presence of God in their life.

- To have the gift of tongues: is to begin to communicate with the others in a new form. Sometimes, we find a person whom we never have seen before, but it seems to us that we have known her for a long time . This happens because we speak the same language, the language of love.

- They will be unharmed if they take deadly poison: there are many things which poison living together. Much gossip which destroys the relationship between persons. The one who lives in the presence of God goes beyond this and succeeds in not being bothered by this terrible poison.

- Cures the sick: wherever there is a clearer and more dynamic conscience of the presence of God, there is also a special attention toward oppressed and marginalized persons, especially sick persons. What helps the person more to heal, is to feel accepted and loved.

- Through the community, Jesus continues his mission: Jesus himself who lived in Palestine, where he accepted the poor of his time, revealing in this way, the love of the Father, this same Jesus continues alive in our midst, in our communities. And through us he continues his mission, revealing the Good News of the Love of God for the poor. Up until today, the Resurrection takes place, which urges us to sing: “Who will separate us, who will separate us from the love of Christ, who will separate us?” (cf. Rm 8, 38-39). No power of this world is capable to counteract the force which comes from faith in the Resurrection (Rm 8, 35-39). A community which wants to be witness of the Resurrection has to be a sign of life, should fight against the forces of death, in a way that the world may be a favourable place for life, and should believe that a different world is possible. Above all in Latin America, where the life of the people is in danger because of the system of death which has been imposed; the communities have to be a living proof of the hope which overcomes the world, without fear of being happy!

Personal questions
To cast out devils, to have the gift of new tongues, to be unharmed by deadly poison and by the snakes, to impose the hands on the sick: Have you fulfilled any of these signs?
Does Jesus continue his mission through us and through our community? Is he able to fulfil this mission in our community? How and in which way?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  St Peter Thomas

Feast DayJanuary 25
Patron Saint:

Saint Peter Thomas
Two qualified admirers of Peter Thomas wrote his Life almost on the morrow of his death: Philip of Mézières (d. 1405), chancellor of King Peter of Cyprus and spiritual son of the saint (ed. J. Smet, The Life of St. Peter Thomas by Philippe de Mézières, Rome, 1954), and the Franciscan John Carmesson, minister of the province of the Holy Land, who had delivered the funeral eulogy (ed. Daniel of the Virgin Mary, The Life of St. Peter Thomas..., Anvers, 1666, and in Speculum Carmelitanum /Carmelite Mirror/, I, ib., 1680, pp. 165--225). 

Peter Thomas was born about 1305 into a very poor family (his father, a farm head, was a serf) in southern Périgord, in «a village which is called Salimaso de Thomas, in the diocese of Sarlat» (Phil of M. ed. cit, p. 53, 2-3; see also in Badisimato de Thomas, Carmesson, ed. cit, p. 4), a locality which is not easily identifiable. It is thought to be today's Lebreil, a section of Salles-de-Belves, about forty kilometers to the southwest of Sarlat (Dordogne), a traditional center of devotion to the saint. 

Upon the death of his brother, Peter Thomas, in order not to aggravate the family misery, left his parents and his younger sister while still a young man (Phil, of M., p. 54, 3). He went on to the nearby Castrum vocatum Monpesier /fortified town called Monpesier/ (ib., p. 54, 5), that is, to the small town of Monpazier, forty-five kilometers from Bergerac. Here he attended school for about three years (Carmesson, p. 5), living on alms and teaching younger pupils. He led the same type of life at Agen «for many years, until the age of twenty» (Phil, of M., p. 54, 9-10), that is, until about 1325, and then returned to Monpazier (Carmesson, p. 6). 

The prior Of the Carmelite convent of Lectoure took note of him and had him teach for a year in that school. Then the prior of Condom (Phil of M., p. 54, 18) or, more probably, that Of Bergerac (ib., p. 187, 18) brought him to his own convent and gave him the Carmelite habit. He made his profession of religious vows at Bergerac and taught there for two years. As a lector of logic at Agen, he studied philosophy there and, after another three years, was ordained a priest. He was helped in his dire poverty by the intervention of Our Lady, and went to teach logic in the Carmelite convent of Bordeaux for one year, then philosophy at the Carmelite house at Albi, and then again in Agen. After a stay of three years at Paris to further his studies, «he was made a lector at Cathurcii» (Phil. of M., p. 57, 1), that is, at Cahors, where, while preaching during a procession held to overcome a tremendous drought, he caused a «miraculous rain» to fall (ib., p. 57). 

After another three years he returned to Paris in order to continue his four-years course and gain the baccalaureate in theology. On his return to his own province he was elected procurator general cf his Order by the chapter of May 15, 1345, and was sent to the Roman curia, that is, to the pontifical court at Avignon. Despite the fact that physically he was not well-gifted (his Father General was ashamed to present him to the cardinals), he was noticed by his fellow-countryman, the cardinal of Périgord, Elias Talleyrand, who had him named apostolic preacher. The cardinal also intervened to permit him, perhaps after the normal three years of his procuratorship (1345-48), to finish his studies at Paris and to be declared a master in sacred theology towards his third year (Phil. of M., p. 59, 10), rather than after the five years prescribed by the university. He returned to Avignon (1351?) and successfully resumed his office of apostolic preacher. At the death of Pope Clement VI, he accompanied the corpse to the Chaise-Dieu, preaching at all the twelve stops along the way (April, 1353). 

From that time on the whole life of Peter Thomas was dedicated to the fulfillment of delicate missions entrusted to him by the Holy See, for peace among Christian princes, for the defense of the rights of the Church before the most powerful monarchs of the age, for the union of the Orthodox Byzantine--Slavs with the Roman Church, for the anti-Muslim crusade and the liberation of the Holy Land. 

His first legation (Oct., 1353) regarded the normalization of relations between Venice and Genoa and between the pontifical court and that of Naples. With a letter of Innocent VI, destined for the Ligurian doge, John Valente (see Innocent VI, Lettres secrètes et curiales, ed. P. Gasnault-M.H. Laurent, I, 2, Paris, 1960, pp. 184-5, 192-3, 196, nn. 569, 584, 596), Peter Thomas travelled to Milan to solicit the intervention of the archbishop, Duke John Visconti, in the Venetian-Genoese quarrel (Smet, Life, pp. 189-92). He then proceeded to Naples, where the pope had to defend the interests of the daughters of Charles of Durazzo, nephew of Cardinal Talleyrand, before King Louis of Taranto (Phil. of M., p. 64; see Smet, pp. 192-3; and Innocent VI, Lettres, 1. c, pp. 191-3, n. 585). 

In the following year, having been consecrated bishop of Patti and Lipari (Nov. 17, 1354), he took part, together with Bartholomew of Traù, in a pontifical mission to Serbia, whose sovereign, Stephen Dusan, had manifested desires of union (see Innocent VI, Lettres, ed. cit., II, Paris, 1962, pp. 206-14). After the mission had left Avignon in the second half of Jan., 1355, on its way to Venice, it renewed the appeal of the pope to Viscounti at Milan, and at Pisa met the German emperor, Charles TV, with whom it was charged to treat in the name of the Holy See (ib., pp. 65, 194-5). During the crossing of the Adriatic the saint intervened to free the group from a Turkish attack and from a tempest (ib., pp. 66-7); the mission reached the Serbian court at the beginning of March, 1355. Although Peter Thomas endeavored to reconcile «many metropolitan and other churches» (p. 70, 1-2) with the Roman See, he failed in his praiseworthy attempt, one reason being the death of Dusan (Dec. 20, 1355). On the return journey to the curia (in the spring of 1356), the nuncio dealt with Louis d'Anjou, king of Hungary, at Buda. (Phil. of M., pp. 67-70; Smet, pp. 195-6). 

Peter Thomas had hardly returned to Avignon when Innocent VI entrusted him (July- Aug., 1356) with a complicated legation, in the company of the Dominican William Conti, bishop of Sizeboiu. This legation aimed at resolving the Venetian-Hungarian conflict and at activating the politico-religious union proposed by the Byzantine emperor, John V Paleologus. Bearing a copious correspondence (A. L. Tautu, Acta Innocentii PP. VI, Rome, 1961, pp. 144-5, 151-76), the embassy reached Venice on Sept. 20, 1356, and Zagreb eight days later. Here it discussed with Louis Of Hungary the plan of leading a crusade against the sucessor of Dusan, Stephen Uros of Serbia. Peter Thomas, having returned to Venice on Nov. 10, was unable to conclude the peace between Venice and Hungary (Phil. of. M., pp. 70-4; Smet, pp. 197-201). 

At Constantinople (not before April, 1357), the papal legate received the submission of the emperor, to whom he gave Eucharistic communion (Phil. of M., p. 75); moreover, he obtained adherence to Catholic unity of several Greek nobles, such as John Lascaris Calofero and Demetrius Angelus of Thessalonica (A. L. Tautau, Acta Urbani PP V, Rome, 1964, p. 124). Perhaps he also played a part in the religious crisis of Demetrius Cydon (Smet, pp. 204-5). Among the theological debates provoked by his presence in the capital, the one that took place in the Pantocrator monastery in Oct. of 1357 is to be mentioned (J. Darrouzes, Conférence sur la primaute a Constantinople en 1357, in Revue des etudes byzantines, XIX /1961/ Melanges Raymond Janin, pp. 76-109; see T. M. Giuliani, Dibattito sul primato del Papa svoltosi a Constantinopoli nel 1357, in Oikoumenikon, 1966, quad. 112, pp. 77-92). 

On Nov. 7 following, John V Paleologus consigned to Peter Thomas a letter for the pope in which the emperor promised to take all the measures necessary for union (Phil, of M., pp. 76-9). The nuncio fell seriously ill on Cyprus, where he had gone to obtain the support of King Hugo in favor of Byzantium. He had scarcely recovered when he set out on a devout pilgrimage to Jerusalem, without being harassed by the Moslems. Subsequently he returned to Famagusta on Cyprus, where he was graced with some ecstasies (ib., pp. 80-2). It may be that on his return journey to the curia he stopped over in his own Sicilian diocese (see Acta Innocentii PP. VI, ed., cit. 144-5). 

Meanwhile Innocent VI was reorganizing the anti-Turkish league set up in 1350 by the Apostolic See, Cyprus, Venice and the Hospitallers of Rhodes. On May 10, 1359, he promoted Peter Thomas to the see of Coron (Peloponnesus) and named him his legate in the East, with ample jurisdiction over Morea, Constantinople, and the Venetian territories of «Romania» (ib., pp. 227-32). During the summer of that year Peter Thomas was at Venice, preparing the expedition. He accompanied it in the attack on Lansacco, and in the autumn cooperated in the defense of Smyrna. He prohibited, under pain of excommunication, the use of beards in the Latin patriarchate of Constantinople (Acta Urbani PP. V, I.e., p. 129). He then went on to Candia (Crete), in order to root out an «abominable heresy» (Phil. of M., p. 87, 3) that had arisen among the Latins; on that occasion a fanatic perished at the stake. At Canea he had the bones of a heretic burned. 

About Christmas of 1359, on the way to Rhodes, he became ill and was still feverish when he left the island at the beginning of April, 1360, to go to Cyprus; he disembarked at Pafo or at Cerin. On Easter Sunday, 1360, at Famagusta, he crowned his friend, Peter of Lusignan, king of Jerusalem (Phil, of M., pp. 90-2; L. Macheras, Chronique de Chypre, French trans. E. Miller-C. Sathas, Paris, 1882, pp. 56-9). He sought with «sweet» persuasion, «after many days» (Phil of M., p. 92, 7), to recall the orthodox Cypriots to Catholic unity; but their resistence put the life of the legate in serious danger. Afterwards, however, he reputedly gained all the hierarchy and almost all the dissident priest" to the Roman Church (ib., p. 93, 20-2). The Greek chroniclers, nevertheless, are of a different opinion (Macheras, Chronique, p. 57; see H. J. Magoulias, A Study in Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Church relations on the Island of Cyprus between the Years A.D. 1196 and 1360, in The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, X, /1964/, pp. 96-106). 

Spurred on by an intense pastoral zeal, Peter Thomas went to visit his diocese of Coron, going by way of Rhodes. After the conquest of Adalia (Satalia) on the part of King Peter (Aug. 23-4, 1361), Peter Thomas instituted Catholic worship there, then returned to Cyprus. He organized public prayers against the plague that had broken out on the island (Phil, of M., pp. 97-100). He then entered into conflict with the friend of Demetrius Cydon, George the Philosopher (Demetrius Cydones, Correspondance, ed. R.J. Loenertz, Vatican City, 1956, p. 61). 

After he had become the spiritual director of Philip of Mezieres, chancellor of Peter I, Peter Thomas and the latter conceived the idea of a new crusade; and on Oct. 24, 1352, the two left Pafo en route to Europe to solicit the help of the West. After a stop in Rhodes, on Dec. 5 they disembarked in Venice; on Jan. 21, 1363, they were at Milan, and on Feb. 3 at Genoa. At Avignon Peter Thomas found a new pope, Urban V (1362-70), who promoted him to the archbishopric of Crete (March 6, 1363) and proclaimed the crusade (April 11). While Peter of Jerusalem visited the other courts of Europe, the saint accepted the peace-making mission at Milan, to induce Barnabas Visconti to restore Bologna to Card. Albornoz, the representative of the pope. After extenuating maneuvers between Emilia, Lombardy and Avignon, Peter Thomas had to administer the city of Bologna (Jan. 15-Feb. 7, 1364). While there he had to escape a conspiracy; however, on his return to Bologna from a trip to Venice in relation to the revolt of Crete, he assisted at the longed-for treaty of peace (March 13; see Phil of M., pp. 102- 10; Smet, pp. 213-21). 

On his return to the curia, about the middle of May, 1364, he was elected Latin patriarch of Constantinople and papal legate for the crusade, in succession to the deceased Card. Talleyrand. (The documents were deferred until the 5th and 10th of July; see Smet, p. 118, n. 32). It seems he was still at Avignon, and on the point of departure for Crete, when, on June 2, Urban V wrote to the doge of Genoa, Gabriel Adorno (Smet, p. 221, n. 25). Other sources, however, record the presence of the saint as a co-founder, on the same day, at the solemn act of official inauguration of the theological faculty at the University of Bologna (F. Ehrle, Gli statuti della facolta teologica di Bologna del 1364, in Biblioteca de «L'Archginnasio,» 2.a ser., Bologna, 1925, p. CXLII). At any rate, he was back at Bologna, after having definitely left Avignon in the second half of July, in order to confer the degree of master in sacred theology on his fellow-Carmelite, Bernard Aiguani (Smet, p. 119, n. 34). 

Peter Thomas then travelled to Venice, where he nervously awaited the arrival of King Peter. The latter finally returned on Nov. 11, but with his hands practically empty. The  departure of the crusade was further delayed, not only by the winter season, but also by the war that broke out between Cyprus and Genoa. On Jan. 28, 1365, Peter of Jerusalem and on Feb. 20 the pope chose Peter Thomas as a negotiator of peace between the two rival states. «Almost stoned» upon his arrival at Genoa (Phil of M., p. 123, 5-6), the legate succeeded in reconciling the Ligurian republic with the sovereign of Cyprus (treaty of April 18, 1365; see Smet, pp. 222-4). 

On June 27 the ships of the crusade sailed from Venice, and Peter Thomas strengthened the spirits of those who were leaving. In July the fleet had reached Rhodes, where, during the final preparations for the expedition, the legate worked intensely for the spiritual good of all. On Oct. he blessed all the militia Christi, which on the 9th following had already reached the port of Alexandria of Egypt. On the next day, by his words and by the inspiration of the relic of the Cross that he held in his hand at the moment of assault, the legate played a decisive role in the taking of the city (Phil of M., pp. 128-33; G. de Machaut, La prise d'Alexaotdrie ou Chronique du roi Pierre ler de Lusignan, ed. L. de Mas Latrie, Geneva, 1877). The victory could have been «a great and memorable work» (Petrarch, Senilia, VIII, 8) had not the Latin army, through fear of a probable Turkish counter-attack and against the opinion of the legate and a few others, shamefully abandoned Alexandria, after reducing it to a heap of ashes, and returned to Cyprus (Oct. 16). Peter Thomas wrote a pathetic letter to Pope Urban V and to the emperor, Charles IV, about this event (Phil, of M., pp. 135-40). 

In Famagusta Peter Thomas prohibited all commerce with the sultan; he was preparing to embark and return to the curia, when he caught cold during the Christmas feasts of 1365. His condition worsened on Dec. 28; and on Jan. 6, 1366, «reduced to skin and bones» (Phil Of M., p. 151, 15), he piously ended his earthly life «at about the second hour of the night» (ib. 154, 8), after having distributed all his belongings. He died in the Carmelite convent of Famagusta. 

His remains seemed surrounded with light to the women who waked them. The funeral was a veritable triumph; even the dissident Greeks and others who would willingly have «drunk his blood» (ib. p. 156, 3-4) while he was alive participated devoutly. The funeral eulogy was delivered by Carmesson, who several times felt himself mysteriously urged to call the deceased a saint (lb., 157, 8). The body remained exposed for six days, and was visited by a great number of people; cures and other miracles were verified before and after the burial (Smet, pp. 163-84). 

During the Lent of that year (Feb. 18-April 5) Philip of Mezieres wrote his biographical work on the saint (Smet, p. 31); and he was soon followed by Carmesson. who wished to contribute to the ecclesiastical process begun at Famagusta by the bishop, Simon of Leodicea, on April 14, 1366. On May 8 the tomb was opened: the body was found «perfect and whole, and the members as flexible as before» (Carmesson, pp. 100-1). The petition for canonization was presented to the pontiff, Urban V, by Peter of Cyprus himself. At the request of Peter of Jerusalem, on May 21, 1368, papal authority forbade removal of the body from  Cyprus for ten years (Smet, p. 188). And thus the last will of the saint regarding the return of his mortal remains to Beragerac was not respected.

The conquest of Cyprus by the Turks in 1571 and the earthquake of 1735 removed every trace of Peter Thomas on that island, and thus another desire of the saint was realized: to be a corpse «trodden on by goats and dogs» (Phil. of M., p. 148, 14). In 1905 the areheologist E. Enlart had to give up his search for the tomb of the saint among the ruins of the Carmelite church of Famagusta (Fouilles dan les eglises de Famagouste de Chypre, in The Archaeological Journal, LXII /1905/, p. 196). At Lebreil, a small chapel had been erected upon the presumed natal home of the saint, near a spring that reputedly appeared at his intercession. Pilgrims came to the chapel to pray especially to be freed of fever. It was destroyed by the French revolution. In 1895 there was talk of substituting the chapel «with a worthy sanctuary» (A. Parraud, Vie de saint P. T., Avignon, 1895, p. 351, n. 1). 

The fours volumes of sermons and the tract De Immaculata Conceptions B. M. V. that tradition attributes to him were likewise lost (ib., pp. 55, 57). Among the relics dear to the saint is to be mentioned the processional cross offered to him in 1360 by the Christian refugees from Syria and used by him as the standard in the Alexandrian crusade and as a source of strength in his own last agony. He willed the cross to his friend, Philip of Mézières, who on Dec. 23, 1370, gave it to the Grand School of St. John in Venice. This processional cross became the object of intense devotion and was depicted on the city's standard as a symbol of the greatness of His Serene Highness, the doge. It is preserved in the Venetian church of St. John. The cult of Peter Thomas, confirmed by Paul V in 1609 and by Urban VIII in 1628, is celebrated only in the Order of Carmel, on Jan. 8, and in the diocese of Perigueux. In 1944 the Carmelites in Rome dedicated to Peter Thomas a lyceum and a school of philosophy adjacent to their basilica of St. Martin of the Mountains on the Oppian hill. It is a modest tribute to the glory of a humble Carmelite, master in theology, a devotee of the Immaculate Virgin, one chosen for the highest offices of pontifical diplomacy, able craftsman of the Eastern policy of the papacy and of its work in favor of Christian unity, ardent peacemaker involved in a fatal armed enterprise: a European and ecumenical figure of the XIV century ! 

ICONOGRAPHY. In the national Pinacoteca (picture gallery) of Bologna; a picture of L. Caracci commissioned in 1596-8 by the theological faculty of the university of that city represents our saint under the erroneous title Martyrdom of St. Angelus (see above, p. 39; also, BSS, I, coll. 1241-2); he is bearded and clothed in a monastic habit, crucified to a tree trunk, pierced by a Turkish poisoned arrow. The motif is inspired by the legend according to which Peter Thomas reputedly was mortally wounded during the battle for Alexandria and therefore merits the title of martyr. For the identification of the personage here represented no doubts should remain, both because of the episcopal symbols visible on the viewer's left and because of the unmistakable view of Bologna in the background to the right. 

To perpetuate the memory of the establishment of the above-mentioned theological faculty, and to bring renown to the academic sessions by the public disputations that were usually held every year at Bologna on the Sunday after the Epiphany, Lucius Massari, wishing to commemorate the saint, during the same years (1596-8) painted Peter Thomas in the great hall of the Carmelites. He is seated as a universal doctor in a teacher's pulpit in the act of addressing a crowded group of learned men of diverse origins, as if to symbolize the prestige of theology. Although the profound knowledge of the saint cannot be denied, and the possibility that he may have become a Doctor of the Church—given his excellent theological preparation and despite the vortex of his diplomatic activity— cannot be excluded, it seems to us that his fame at Bologna has benefitted from his contemporary of the same name, the Invincible Doctor, that great Scotist, Peter Thomas, O.F.M. On the other hand, the deeds and honors of the Carmelite have in the past been attributed to the Franciscan. 

A miniature of the Acta Collegii Theologici (I, f. lr) represents Peter Thomas, together with the other founders of the Bologna faculty, prostrate at the feet of Pope Innocent VI, from whom he obtains the brief of erection of the same faculty (June 30, 1360). As president of the group of founders of the glorious institution, Peter Thomas, with his patriarchal pallium, is also found in other artistic representations. 

For the representations at Salles-de-Belves and at Lebeil (picture, window, fragment of a statue) and at Paris, see Parraud, op. cit. pp. 349-951. During the XVII cent. a specialist of monastic portraits, Fr. Zurbaran, painted Peter Thomas standing and always bearded, in a monastic habit and with a cardinal's hat, absorbed in the reading of a codex (P. Guinard, Zurbarán et les peintres espagnols de la vie monastique, Paris, 1960, pp. 272-3, tav. 531). In Venice a cycle of pictures illustrates by means of valuable screens or panels—executed by noted artists of the end of the XV cent (G. Bellini, G. Mansueti, L. Bastiani, B. Diana, V. Carpaccio)—the story and the miracles of the precious relic of the cross that strengthened the saint during his agony; today this cycle is found in the Gallery of the Academy (see Pier Tormmaso, Carmelitano, Rome, 1965, pp. 14-7). 

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane



Today's Snippet I:   Crete, Greece

Topography of Crete.
Crete (Greek: Κρήτη Kríti; [kriti]) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. 

 It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits (such as its own poetry, and music). Crete was once the centre of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700–1420 BC), which is currently regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe.


The island is first referred to as Kaptara in texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century BC repeated later in Neo-Assyrian records and the Bible (Caphtor). It was also known in ancient Egyptian as Keftiu, strongly suggesting some form similar to both was the Minoan name for the island.

The current name of Crete first appears in Mycenaean Greek as ke-re-si-jo "Cretan" in Linear B texts. In Ancient Greek, the name Crete (Κρήτη) first appears in Homer's Odyssey. Its etymology is unknown. One speculative proposal derives it from a hypothetical Luvian word *kursatta (cf. kursawar "island", kursattar "cutting, sliver"). In Latin, it became Creta.

The original Arabic name of Crete was Iqrīṭiš (Arabic: اقريطش‎ < (της) Κρήτης), but after the Emirate of Crete's establishment of its new capital at ربض الخندق Rabḍ al-ḫandaq (modern Iraklion), both the city and the island became known as Χάνδαξ (Khandhax) or Χάνδακας (Khandhakas), which gave Latin and Venetian Candia, from which French Candie and English Candy or Candia. Under Ottoman rule, in Ottoman Turkish, Crete was called Girit (كريت).

Physical geography

View of the Ha Gorge
Crete is the largest island in Greece and the second largest in the eastern Mediterranean Sea (after Cyprus). 

It is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea separating the Aegean from the Libyan Sea

The island has an elongated shape: it spans 260 km (160 mi) from east to west, is 60 km (37 mi) at its widest point, and narrows to as little as 12 km (7.5 mi) (close to Ierapetra). 

Crete covers an area of 8,336 km2 (3,219 sq mi), with a coastline of 1,046 km (650 mi); to the north, it broaches the Sea of Crete (Greek: Κρητικό Πέλαγος); to the south, the Libyan Sea (Greek: Λιβυκό Πέλαγος); in the west, the Myrtoan Sea, and toward the east the Karpathian Sea. 

It lies approximately 160 km (99 mi) south of the Greek mainland.

Mountains and valleys

Crete is extremely mountainous, and its character is defined by a high mountain range crossing from west to east, formed by three different groups of mountains:
  • The White Mountains or Lefka Ori 2,452 m (8,045 ft)
  • The Idi Range (Psiloritis 35.18°N 24.82°E 2,456 m (8,058 ft)
  • Kedros 1,777 m (5,830 ft)
  • The Dikti Mountains 2,148 m (7,047 ft)
  • Thripti 1,489 m (4,885 ft)
These mountains lavished Crete with valleys, such as Amari valley, fertile plateaus, such as Lasithi plateau, Omalos and Nidha; caves, such as Diktaion and Idaion (the birthplace of the ancient Greek god Zeus); and a number of gorges.

Gorges, rivers, and lakes

The island has a number of gorges, such as the Samariá Gorge, Imbros gorge, Kourtaliotiko Gorge, Ha Gorge, Platania gorge, the Gorge of the Dead (at Kato Zakros, Sitia) and Richtis Gorge and waterfall at Exo Mouliana in Sitia. The rivers of Crete include the Ieropotamos River, the Koiliaris, the Anapodiaris, the Almiros, and Megas Potamos. There are only two freshwater lakes: Lake Kournas and Lake Agia, which are both in Chania regional unit. Lake Voulismeni at the coast, at Aghios Nikolaos, was formerly a sweetwater lake but is now connected to the sea, in Lasithi.

Surrounding islands

A large number of islands, islets, and rocks hug the coast of Crete. Many are visited by tourists, some are visited only by archaeologists and biologists. Some are environmentally protected. A small sample of the islands include:
  • Gramvousa (Kissamos, Chania) the pirate island opposite the Balo lagoon
  • Elafonisi (Chania), which commemorates a shipwreck and an Ottoman massacre
  • Chrysi island (Ierapetra, Lasithi), which hosts the largest natural Lebanon cedar forest in Europe
  • Paximadia island (Agia Galini, Rethymno) where the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis were born
  • The Venetian fort and leper colony at Spinalonga opposite the beach and shallow waters of Elounda (Ag. Nikolaos, Lasithi)
  • Dionysades islands which are in an environmentally protected region together the Palm Beach Forest of Vai in the municipality of Sitia, Lasithi


Crete straddles two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and the North African, mainly falling within the former. As such, the climate in Crete is primarily temperate. The atmosphere can be quite humid, depending on the proximity to the sea, while winter is fairly mild. Snowfall is common on the mountains between November and May, but rare in the low lying areas. While mountain tops remain snow-capped year long, near the coast snow only stays on the ground for a few minutes or hours. However, a truly exceptional cold snap swept the island in February 2004, during which period the whole island was blanketed with snow. During the Cretan summer, average temperatures reach the high 20s-low 30s Celsius (mid 80s to mid 90s Fahrenheit), with maxima touching the upper 30s-mid 40s.

The south coast, including the Mesara Plain and Asterousia Mountains, falls in the North African climatic zone, and thus enjoys significantly more sunny days and high temperatures throughout the year. There, date palms bear fruit, and swallows remain year-round rather than migrate to Africa. The fertile region around Ierapetra, on the southeastern corner of the island, is renowned for its exceptional year-round agricultural production, with all kinds of summer vegetables and fruit produced in greenhouses throughout the winter.

Fauna and flora

The Ophrys Cretica orchid
Crete is isolated from mainland Europe, Asia, and Africa, and this is reflected in the diversity of the fauna and flora. As a result the fauna and flora of Crete have many clues to the evolution of species. There are no animals that are dangerous to humans on the island of Crete in contrast to other parts of Greece. Indeed, the ancient Greeks attributed the lack of large mammals such as bears, wolves, jackals, and poisonous snakes, to the labour of Hercules (who took a live Cretan bull to the Peloponnese). Hercules wanted to honor the birthplace of Zeus by removing all "harmful" and "poisonous" animals from Crete.

 Later, Cretans believed that the island was cleared of dangerous creatures by the Apostle Paul, who lived on the island of Crete for two years, with his exorcisms and blessings. There is a Natural History Museum operating under the direction of the University of Crete and two aquariums - Aquaworld in Hersonissos and Cretaquarium in Gournes, displaying sea creatures common in Cretan waters.

Prehistoric fauna

Dwarf elephants, dwarf hippopotamus, and dwarf deer were native to Pleistocene Crete.


Mammals of Crete include the vulnerable Kri-kri, Capra Aegagrus Creticus that can be seen in the national park of the Samaria Gorge and on Thodorou, Dia and Agioi Pantes, (islets off the north coast), the Cretan wildcat and the Cretan spiny mouse. Other terrestrial mammals include subspecies of the Cretan marten, the Cretan weasel, the Cretan badger, the long-eared hedgehog, the edible dormouse, and the Cretan shrew, a unique endemic species of mammal in Greece, that is unfortunately threatened with extinction.

Bat species include: Blasius's horseshoe bat, the lesser horseshoe bat, the greater horseshoe bat, the lesser mouse-eared bat, Geoffroy's bat, the whiskered bat, Kuhl's pipistrelle, the common pipistrelle, Savi's pipistrelle, the serotine bat, the long-eared bat, Schreiber's bat, and the European free-tailed bat.


A large variety of birds includes eagles (can be seen in Lasithi), swallows (throughout Crete in the summer and all the year in the south of the island), pelicans (along the coast), and cranes (including Gavdos and Gavdopoula). The Cretan mountains and gorges are refuges for the endangered Lammergeier vulture. Bird species include: the golden eagle, Bonelli's eagle, the bearded vulture or Lammergeier, the griffon vulture, Eleanora's falcon, peregrine falcon, lanner falcon, European kestrel, tawny owl, alpine chough, red-billed chough, and the hoopoe.

Reptiles and amphibians

The loggerhead sea turtle nests and hatches along the beaches of Rethymno and Chania and the gulf of Mesara.
Reptiles and tortoises can be seen throughout the island. Snakes can be found hiding under rocks. Toads and frogs reveal themselves when it rains. Reptiles include the aegean wall lizard, balkan green lizard, Chamaeleo chamaeleon, ocellated skink, snake-eyed skink, moorish gecko, turkish gecko, Kotschy's gecko, spur-thighed tortoise, and the stripe-necked terrapin.
There are four species of snake on the island and these are not dangerous to humans. The four species include the leopard snake (locally known as Ochendra), the Balkan whip snake (locally called Dendrogallia), the dice snake (called Nerofido in Greek), and the only venomous snake is the nocturnal cat snake which has evolved to deliver a weak venom at the back of its mouth to paralyse geckos and small lizards, and is not dangerous to humans.

Turtles include the green turtle and the loggerhead turtle which are both endangered species. The loggerhead turtle nests and hatches on north-coast beaches around Rethymno and Chania, and south-coast beaches along the gulf of Mesara.Amphibians include the green toad, American toad, common tree frog, and the Cretan marsh frog.


Crete has an unusual variety of insects. Xylophagous, known locally as Tzitzikia, make a distinctive repetitive tzi tzi noise that becomes louder and more frequent on hot summer days. Butterfly species include the swallowtail butterfly. Moth species include the hummingbird moth. There are several species of scorpion such as Euscorpius carpathicus whose venom is generally no more potent than a mosquito bite.

Crustaceans and molluscs

River crabs include the semi-terrestrial potamon potamios crab. Edible snails are widespread and can cluster in the hundreds waiting for rainfall to reinvigorate them.


Apart from terrestrial mammals, the seas around Crete are rich in large marine mammals, a fact unknown to most Greeks, although reported since ancient times. Indeed, the Minoan frescoes depicting dolphins in Queen's Megaron at Knossos, indicate that Minoans knew many things about these creatures and respected them. Apart from the famous endangered Mediterranean monk seal, which lives in almost all the coasts of the country, Greece hosts whales, sperm whales, dolphins and porpoises. These are either permanent residents of the Mediterranean, or just occasional visitors. The area south of Crete, known as the Greek Abyss, hosts many of them. Squid and octopus can be found along the coast and sea turtles and hammerhead sharks swim in the sea around the coast. The Cretaquarium and the Aquaworld Aquarium, are two of only three aquariums in the whole of Greece. They are located in Gournes and Hersonissos respectively, and examples of the local sealife can be seen there.

Some of the fish that can be seen in the waters around Crete include: scorpion fish, dusky grouper, east Atlantic peacock wrasse, five-spotted wrasse, weever fish, common stingray, brown ray, mediterranean black goby, pearly razorfish, star-gazer, painted comber, damselfish, and the flying gurnard.


Common wildflowers include: camomile, daisy, gladiolus, hyacinth, iris, poppy, cyclamen and tulip, among others. There are more than 200 different species of wild orchid on the island and this includes 14 varieties of Ophrys Cretica. Crete has a rich variety of indigenous herbs including common sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Rare herbs include the endemic Cretan dittany. and Ironwort, Sideritis syriaca L, known as Malotira (Μαλοτήρα). Varieties of cactus include the edible Prickly Pear. Common trees on the island include the chestnut, cypress, oak, olive tree, pine, plane, and tamarisk. Trees tend to be taller to the west of the island where water is more abundant.

Human Geography

Crete is the most populous island in Greece with a population of more than 500,000 people. Approximately 42% live in Crete's main cities and towns whilst 45% live in rural areas.


Crete with its nearby islands form the Crete Region (Greek: Περιφέρεια Κρήτης), one of the 13 regions of Greece which were established in the 1987 administrative reform. With the 2010 Kallikratis plan, the powers and authority of the regions were redefined and extended. The region is based at Heraklion and is divided into four regional units (pre-Kallikratis prefectures). From west to east these are: Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, and Lasithi. These are further subdivided into 24 municipalities. The region's governor is, since 1 January 2011, Stavros Arnaoutakis, who was elected in the November 2010 local administration elections for the Panhellenic Socialist Movement.


Dancers from Sfakia
Crete has its own distinctive Mantinades poetry. The island is known for its Mantinades-based music (typically performed with the Cretan lyra and the laouto) and has many indigenous dances, the most noted of which is the Pentozali.

Cretan authors have made important contributions to Greek Literature throughout the modern period; major names include Vikentios Kornaros, creator of the 17th century epic romance Erotokritos (Greek Ερωτόκριτος), and in the 20th century Nikos Kazantzakis. In the Renaissance, Crete was the home of the Cretan School of icon painting, which influenced El Greco and through him subsequent European painting.

Cretans are fiercely proud of their island and customs, and men often don elements of traditional dress in everyday life: knee-high black riding boots (stivania), vráka breeches tucked into the boots at the knee, black shirt and black headdress consisting of a fishnet-weave kerchief worn wrapped around the head or draped on the shoulders (the sariki). Black is the color of mourning, and since Cretan families are notionally considered so extended as to include great-grandparents or second cousins (although they may have little actual contact) as well as all their respective in-laws, one is theoretically justified to be in continuous mourning for some relative or other, however distant. On festive occasions those who are not in mourning wear white, most notably white boots and headdress. In the small villages in the mountains some men unabashedly carry weapons including knives and guns which also appear at special occasions such as weddings.

Cretan society is well known for notorious family and clan vendettas which remain on the island to date. Cretans also have a tradition of keeping firearms at home, a tradition lasting from the era of resistance against the Ottoman Empire. Nearly every rural household on Crete has at least one unregistered gun. Guns are subject to strict regulation from the Greek government, yet the authorities turn a blind eye, accepting gun possession as their tradition.

 History of Crete

The History of Crete goes back to the 7th Millennium B.C., preceding the ancient Minoan civilization by more than four millennia. The Minoan civilization was the first civilization in Europe and the first, in Europe, to build a palace. After the Minoan civilization was devastated by the Thera eruption, Crete developed an Ancient Greece-influenced organization of city states, then successively became part of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Venetian Republic, the Ottoman Empire, and the modern state of Greece.

Prehistoric Crete

Excavations in South Crete in 2008-2009 lead by T.F. Strasser (Providence College, R.I., USA) revealed stone tools at least 130,000 years old. This was a sensational discovery as the previously accepted earliest sea crossing in the Mediterranean was thought to occur around 12,000 BC. The stone tools found in the Plakias region of Crete include hand axes of the Acheulian type made of quartz . It is believed that pre-Homo sapiens hominids from Africa crossed to Crete on rafts.

In the neolithic period, some of the early influences upon the development of Cretan culture arise from the Cyclades and from Egypt; cultural records are written in the undeciphered script known as "Linear A". The archaeological record of Crete includes superb palaces, houses, roads, paintings and sculptures. Early Neolithic settlements in Crete include Knossos and Trapeza.

Because of a lack of written records, estimates of Cretan chronology are based on well-established Aegean and Ancient Near Eastern pottery styles, so that Cretan timelines have been made by seeking Cretan artifacts traded with other civilizations (such as the Egyptians) - a well established occurrence. For the earlier times, radiocarbon dating of organic remains and charcoal offers independent dates. Based on this, it is thought that Crete was inhabited from the 7th millennium BC onwards.

The native fauna of Crete included pygmy hippo, pygmy elephant, dwarf deer (Praemegaceros cretensis), giant rodents and insectivores as well as badger, beech marten and a kind of terrestrial otter. Large carnivores were lacking. Most of these animals died out at the end of the last ice-age. Humans played a part in this extinction, which occurred on other medium to large Mediterranean islands as well, for example on Cyprus, Sicily and Majorca. Crete's religious symbols included the dove, lily and double-headed ax.

Remains of a settlement found under the Bronze Age palace at Knossos date to the 7th Millennium BC. The first settlers introduced cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and dogs, as well as domesticated cereals and legumes.

Up to now, Knossos remains the only aceramic site. The settlement covered approximately 350,000 square metres. The sparse animal bones contain the above-mentioned domestic species as well as deer, badger, marten and mouse: the extinction of the local megafauna had not left much game behind.

Neolithic pottery is known from Knossos, Lera Cave and Gerani Cave. The Late Neolithic sees a proliferation of sites, pointing to a population increase. In the late Neolithic, the donkey and the rabbit were introduced to the island, deer and agrimi hunted. The Kri-kri, a feral goat, preserves traits of the early domesticates. Horse, fallow deer and hedgehog are only attested from Minoan times onwards.

Minoan-Mycenaean Crete

Crete was the centre of Europe's most ancient civilization, the Minoan. Tablets inscribed in Linear A have been found in numerous sites in Crete, and a few in the Aegean islands. The Minoans established themselves in many islands besides Ancient Crete: secure identifications of Minoan off-island sites include Kea, Kythera, Milos, Rhodes, and above all, Thera (Santorini).

Archaeologists ever since Sir Arthur Evans have identified and uncovered the palace-complex at Knossos, the most famous Minoan site. Other palace sites in Crete such as Phaistos have uncovered magnificent stone-built, multi-story palaces containing drainage systems, and the queen had a bath and a flushing toilet. The expertise displayed in the hydraulic engineering was of a very high level. There were no defensive walls to the complexes. By the 16th century BC pottery and other remains on the Greek mainland show that the Minoans had far-reaching contacts on the mainland. In the 16th century a major earthquake caused destruction on Crete and on Thera that was swiftly repaired.

By about the 15th century BC a massive volcanic explosion known as the Minoan eruption blew the island of Thera apart, casting more than four times the amount of ejecta as the explosion of Krakatoa and generating a tsunami in the enclosed Aegean that threw pumice up to 250 meters above sea level onto the slopes of Anaphi, 27 km to the east. Any fleet along the north shore of Crete was destroyed and John Chadwick suggests that the majority of Cretan fleets had kept the island secure from the Greek-speaking mainlanders. The sites, save Knossos, were destroyed by fires. Mycenaeans from the mainland took over Knossos, rebuilding some parts to suit them. They were in turn subsumed by a subsequent Dorian migration.

Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Arab Crete

In the Classical and Hellenistic period Crete fell into a pattern of combative city-states, harboring pirates. Gortyn, Kydonia (Chania) and Lyttos challenged the primacy of ancient Knossos, preyed upon one another, invited into their feuds mainland powers like Macedon and its rivals Rhodes and Ptolemaic Egypt, a situation that all but invited Roman interference. Ierapytna (Ierapetra) gained supremacy on eastern Crete.

In 88 BC Mithridates VI of Pontus on the Black Sea, went to war to halt the advance of Roman hegemony in the Aegean. On the pretext that Knossos was backing Mithradates, Marcus Antonius Creticus attacked Crete in 71 BC and was repelled. Rome sent Quintus Caecilius Metellus with three legions to the island. After a ferocious three-year campaign Crete was conquered for Rome in 69 BC, earning this Metellus the agnomen "Creticus." At the archaeological sites, there seems to be little evidence of widespread damage associated with the transfer to Roman power: a single palatial house complex seems to have been razed. Gortyn seems to have been pro-Roman and was rewarded by being made the capital of the joint province of Creta et Cyrenaica.

Gortyn was the site of the largest Christian basilica on Crete, the Basilica of Saint Titus, dedicated to the first Christian bishop in Crete, to whom Paul addressed one of his epistles. The church was begun in the 1st century. As revealed in the Epistle to Titus in the New Testament and confirmed by Cretan poet Epimenides the people of Crete were considered by these Christians to be liars and gluttons. (Note: Epimenides was a poet in the 6th century BC. Paul cited him in Titus 1:12.)

Crete continued to be part of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, a quiet cultural backwater, until it fell into the hands of Iberian Muslims under Abu Hafs in the 820s, who established a piratical emirate on the island. The archbishop Cyril of Gortyn was killed and the city so thoroughly devastated it was never reoccupied. Candia (Chandax, modern Heraklion), a city built by the Iberian Muslims, was made capital of the island instead.

The Emirate of Crete became a center of Muslim piratical activity in the Aegean, and a thorn on Byzantium's side. Successive campaigns to recover the island failed until 961, when Nikephoros Phokas reconquered Crete for the Byzantine Empire and made it into a theme. The Byzantines held the island until the Fourth Crusade (1204). In its aftermath, possession of the island was disputed between the Genoese and the Venetians, with the latter eventually solidifying their control by 1212. Despite frequent revolts by the native population, the Venetians retained the island until 1669, when the Ottoman Turks took possession of it. (The standard survey for this period is I.F. Sanders, An archaeological survey and Gazetteer of Late Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine Crete, 1982)
  • Annette Bingham, "Crete's Roman past: excavations yield antiquities from the Roman period," History Today, November 1995

Venetian Crete (1205–1669)

Venetian propaganda during the Siege: Il regno tutto di Candia, Marco Boschini, 1651
In the partition of the Byzantine empire after the capture of Constantinople by the armies of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Crete was eventually acquired by Venice, which held it for more than four centuries (the "Kingdom of Candia").

The most important of the many rebellions that broke out during that period was the one known as the revolt of St. Titus. It occurred in 1363, when indigenous Cretans and Venetian settlers exasperated by the hard tax policy exercised by Venice, overthrew official Venetian authorities and declared an independent Cretan Republic. The revolt took Venice five years to quell.

During Venetian rule, the Greek population of Crete was exposed to Renaissance culture. A thriving literature in the Cretan dialect of Greek developed on the island. The best-known work from this period is the poem Erotokritos by Vitsentzos Kornaros (Βιτσένζος Κορνάρος). Another major Cretan literary figure was Nicholas Kalliakis (1645–1707), a Greek scholar and philosopher who flourished in Italy in the 17th Century.

Georgios Hortatzis was author of the dramatic work Erophile. The painter Domenicos Theotocopoulos, better known as El Greco, was born in Crete in this period and was trained in Byzantine iconography before moving to Italy and later, Spain.Lathrop C. Harper (1886). Catalogue / Harper (Lathrop C.) inc., New York, Issue 232. Lathrop C. Harper, Inc. p. 36. OCLC 11558801. "Calliachius (1645-1707) was born on Crete and went to Italy at an early age, where he soon became one of the outstanding teachers of Greek and Latin."

Ottoman Crete (1669-1898)

Crete or Candia in 1861
During the Cretan War (1645–1669), Venice was pushed out of Crete by the Ottoman Empire, with most of the island lost after the siege of Candia (1648–1669), possibly the longest siege in history. The last Venetian outpost on the island, Spinalonga, fell in 1718, and Crete was a part of the Ottoman Empire for the next two centuries. There were significant rebellions against Ottoman rule, particularly in Sfakia. Daskalogiannis was a famous rebel leader. One result of the Ottoman conquest was that a sizeable proportion of the population gradually converted to Islam, with its tax and other civic advantages in the Ottoman system. Contemporary estimates vary, but on the eve of the Greek War of Independence as much as 45% of the population of the island may have been Muslim.

Some of them were crypto-Christians who converted back to Christianity; others fled Crete because of the unrest. By the last Ottoman census in 1881, Christians were 76% of the population, and Muslims (usually called "Turks" regardless of language, culture, and ancestry) only 24%. Christians were over 90% of the population in 19/23 of the districts of Crete, but Muslims were over 60% in the three large towns on the north coast, and in Monofatsi.

Greek War of Independence (1821)

The Greek War of Independence began in 1821 and Cretan participation was extensive. An uprising by Christians met with a fierce response from the Ottoman authorities and the execution of several bishops, regarded as ringleaders. Between 1821 and 1828, the island was the scene of repeated hostilities. The Muslims were driven into the large fortified towns on the north coast and it would appear that as many as 60% of them died from plague or famine while there. The Cretan Christians also suffered severely, losing around 21% of their population in the 1830s. 

After Greece achieved its independence, Crete became an object of contention as the Christian part of its population revolted several times against Ottoman rule. Revolts in 1841 and 1858 secured some privileges, such as the right to bear arms, equality of Christian and Muslim worship, and the establishment of Christian councils of elders with jurisdiction over education and customary law. Despite these concessions, the Christian Cretans maintained their ultimate aim of union with Greece, and tensions between the Christian and Muslim communities ran high. Thus, in 1866 the great Cretan Revolt began.

The uprising, which lasted for three years, involved volunteers from Greece and other European countries, where it was viewed with considerable sympathy. Despite early successes of the rebels, who quickly confined the Ottomans to the northern towns, the uprising failed. The Ottoman Grand Vizier A'ali Pasha personally assumed control of the Ottoman forces and launched a methodical campaign to retake the rural districts, which was combined with promises of political concessions, notably by the introduction of an Organic Law, which gave the Cretan Christians equal (in practice, because of their superior numbers, majority) control of local administration. His approach bore fruits, as the rebel leaders gradually submitted. By early 1869, the island was again under Ottoman control.

During the Congress of Berlin in the summer of 1878, there was a further rebellion, which was halted quickly by the intervention of the British and the adaptation of the 1867-8 Organic Law into a constitutional settlement known as the Pact of Halepa. Crete became a semi-independent parliamentary state within the Ottoman Empire under an Ottoman Governor who had to be a Christian. A number of the senior "Christian Pashas" including Photiades Pasha and Kostis Adosidis Pasha ruled the island in the 1880s, presiding over a parliament in which liberals and conservatives contended for power.

Disputes between the two powers however led to a further insurgency in 1889 and the collapse of the Pact of Halepa arrangements. The international powers, disgusted at what seemed to be factional politics, allowed the Ottoman authorities to send troops to the island and restore order but did not anticipate that Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II would use this as a pretext to end the Halepa Pact Constitution and instead rule the island by martial-law. This action led to international sympathy for the Cretan Christians and to a loss of any remaining acquiescence among them for continued Ottoman rule. When a small insurgency began in September 1895, it spread quickly, and by the summer of 1896 the Ottoman forces had lost military control of most of the island.

A new Cretan insurrection in 1897 led to the Ottoman Empire declaring war on Greece. However, the Great Powers (Britain, France, Italy and Russia) decided that Turkey could no longer maintain control and intervened. By March 1897, the Great Powers decided to restore order by governing the island temporarily through a committee of four admirals who remained in charge until the arrival of Prince George of Greece as first governor-general of an autonomous Crete, effectively detached from the Ottoman Empire, on 9 December 1898.

Modern Crete

Cretan State

Turkish forces were expelled in 1898, and the independent Cretan State (Official Greek name: Κρητική Πολιτεία), headed by Prince George of Greece, was founded.

Prince George was replaced by Alexandros Zaimis in 1906, and in 1908, taking advantage of domestic turmoil in Turkey as well as the timing of Zaimis's vacation away from the island, the Cretan deputies declared union with Greece. But this act was not recognized internationally until 1913 after the Balkan Wars. By the Treaty of London, Sultan Mehmed V relinquished his formal rights to the island.

In December, the Greek flag was raised at the Firkas fortress in Chania, with Eleftherios Venizelos and King Constantine in attendance, and Crete was unified with mainland Greece. The Muslim minority of Crete initially remained in the island but was later relocated to Turkey under the general population exchange agreed in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne between Turkey and Greece.

One of the most important figures to emerge from the end of Ottoman Crete was the liberal politician Eleftherios Venizelos, probably the most important statesman of modern Greece. Venizelos was an Athens-trained lawyer who was active in liberal circles in Chania, then the Cretan capital. After autonomy, he was first a minister in the government of Prince George and then his most formidable opponent.

In 1910 Venizelos transferred his career to Athens, quickly became the dominant figure on the political scene and in 1912, after careful preparations for a military alliance against the Ottoman Empire with Serbia, Montenegro, and Bulgaria, allowed Cretan deputies to take their place in the Greek Parliament. This was treated as grounds for war by Turkey but the Balkan allies won a series of sweeping victories in the hostilities that followed (see Balkan Wars). The Turks were effectively defeated in the ensuing war and were forced out of the Balkans and Thrace by the Alliance, except for the borders which Turkey continues to hold to this day.

World War II

Battle of Greece

In 1939, the United Kingdom guaranteed military aid to Greece if its territorial integrity was threatened.The priority of the United Kingdom was to prevent Crete from falling into enemy hands, because the island could be used to defend Egypt, (the Suez Canal and the route to India). British troops landed on Crete with the consent of the Greek Government from 3 November 1940, in order to make the 5th Greek Division of Crete available for the Albanian front.

The invasion of mainland Greece by the Axis powers began on 6 April 1941 and was complete within a few weeks despite the intervention of the armies of the Commonwealth along with Greece. King George II and the Government of Emmanouil Tsouderos were forced to flee Athens and took refuge in Crete on April 23. Crete was also the refuge of Commonwealth troops that fled from the beaches of Attica and the Peloponnese to Crete to organize a new front of resistance.

Battle of Crete

After the conquest of mainland Greece, Germany turned to Crete and the last stage of the Balkans campaign. After a fierce and bloody conflict between Nazi Germany and the Allies (United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and Greece) that lasted ten days (between the 20 and 31 May 1941), the island fell to the Germans.

On the morning of 20 May 1941, Crete was the theater of the first major airborne assault in history. The Third Reich launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the code name of "Operation Mercury". 17,000 paratroopers under the command of General Kurt Student were dropped at three strategic locations with airfields: Maleme, Heraklion, and Rethymnon. Their goal was the capture and control of the three airfields to allow the arrival of reinforcements airlifted by the Luftwaffe from mainland Greece to bypass the Royal Navy and the Hellenic Navy who still controlled the seas.

On 1 June 1941 the Allies completely evacuated the island of Crete. Despite the victory of the German invaders, the elite German paratroopers suffered such heavy losses, from the resistance of the Allied troops and civilians, that Adolf Hitler forbade further airborne operations of such large scale for the rest of the war.

The Cretan Resistance

From the first days of the invasion, the local population organized a resistance movement, participating widely in guerrilla groups and intelligence networks. The first resistance groups formed in the Cretan mountains as early as June 1941. In September 1943, a memorable battle between the troops of occupation resistance fighters led by "Kapetan" Bandouvas in the region of Syme resulted in the deaths of eighty-three German soldiers and another thirteen were taken as prisoners. There were reprisals for resistance, German officers routinely used firing squads against Cretan civilians and razed villages to the ground. Standing out amongst the atrocities, are the holocausts of Viannos and Kedros in Amari, the destruction of Anogia and Kandanos and the massacre of Kondomari.

Other notable historical events

The Black Death

The Black Death of 1348 hit Crete particularly hard. Plagues followed in 1398, 1419, 1456, 1523, 1580, 1592, 1678, 1689, 1703 and 1816, and some of these were credited with killing one third of the population. Many Cretans migrated overseas during difficult periods on the island, some acquiring great fortune abroad, such as Constantine Corniaktos (c. 1517-1603) who became one of the richest people in Eastern Europe.


    • Panagiotakis, Nikolaos M. (1987). "Εισαγωγικό Σημείωμα ("Introduction")". In Panagiotakis, Nikolaos M. (in Greek). Crete, History and Civilization. I. Vikelea Library, Association of Regional Associations of Regional Municipalities. pp. XI–XX.


    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    Part One: Profession of Faith, Chapter 2:3-II

    II. "I Know Whom I Have Believed"Tim 1:12

    To believe in God alone

    150 Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature. Jer 17:5-6; Pss 40:5; 146:3-4

    To believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God

    151 For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his "beloved Son", in whom the Father is "well pleased"; God tells us to listen to him.Mk 1:11; cf. 9:7 The Lord himself said to his disciples: "Believe in God, believe also in me."Jn 14:1 We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known."Jn 1:18 Because he "has seen the Father", Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.Jn 6:46; cf. Mt 11:27

    To believe in the Holy Spirit

    152 One cannot believe in Jesus Christ without sharing in his Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals to men who Jesus is. For "no one can say "Jesus is Lord", except by the Holy Spirit",I Cor 12:3 who "searches everything, even the depths of God. . No one comprehends the thoughts of God, except the Spirit of God."I Cor 2:10-11 Only God knows God completely: we believe in the Holy Spirit because he is God.

    The Church never ceases to proclaim her faith in one only God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.