The parish existed since pre-Christian times, possibly under a different name. It retains its present-day name and form since 1865. The holy church of the Transformation of Christ and Agios Spiridon lies on the North side of the town of Kissamos. It was built in 1865 out of lime, stone and a special red earth from Santorini, strong enough to preserve the integrity of the structure for many years, funded by people of the parish and with their meticulous volunteer work, supervised by architect Ioannis Kaloroumos, from Akrotiri.
In 1911, the church expanded on its west side by building a women section as well as a stone-built bell tower of five bells (the largest of which weighing 1 tonne), which when tolling can be heard across town. The church style is a three-aisled Basilica with four marble pillars supporting its roof, namely remains from the ancient Roman theatre of Kissamos. Since 1966, its interior is adorned with Byzantine murals of Cretan artistry icons and woodcarvings by painter Nikos Gianakkakis, from Kissamos. For 120 years this was the Metropolitan church of Kissamos and patron saint of the town. The sacred and miracle icon of Agios Spiridon is considered a holy heirloom and kept at the church; it was the only one surviving the Turkish looting.
It was made in Russia by a local icon painter in 1887 and today lies in the church covered in a priceless silver shirt, carries numerous valuable oblations from worshippers, who show their gratitude for the healing and relief they felt after the Saint’s intervention. Additionally, on the lower right side there is an inscription that briefly tells the story of the icon and the Saint’s miracle work. The parish put together the church’s museum, which keeps and displays sacred artefacts and treasures of literature of the past, open to the public. In particular, it contains icons of various techniques, benediction and consecration crosses, chalices, candlesticks, incenses, books and other various sacerdotal vestments of the metropolis and parish priests.
Licher, the German sightseer, notes that ‘passing from Crete in May of 1865 I came across the construction site of the superb Christian Orthodox Church in Kissamos, Chania, and the eagerness of the people for its construction’. The Church was finished and inaugurated in three years. It is constructed from stone, lime and a special type of terra rossa which are resilient to the passage of time and keep the building undamaged and eternal.
In 1911 the women’s section of the church was built along with the nice stone bell tower where its five bells hang. The middle and largest one of them, the sound of which resonates throughout the town and the surrounding villages, weighs a ton, it is gifted by G. Choudalakis and it was made in Russia. The church is built in three-aisle basilica rhythm and its roof is supported by four marble pillars taken from the ancient Roman theatre of Kissamos. It is situated at the northern side of the town and it is built on the ruins of a smaller church that was probably torn down by the ferocity of the Turks in the first few years of the country’s and our island’s enslavement.
The interior of the Church is impeccably decorated with old and some newer wood sculptures and icons, and in 1996 the walls were painted with byzantine religious frescos of Cretan art by the religious art painter from Kissamos, Nikos Gianakakis.
Apart from the remains of many Saints of the Orthodox Church, our parish keeps as a holy relic venerable holy water, and as a great treasure the Holy and miraculous Icon of Saint Spiridon. During the Cretan revolution in 1889 and though the Church was desecrated and pillaged, all icons and holy objects abused, burnt and destroyed by the vehemence of the Turks, this icon miraculously survived, and it performs miracles and wonders. This famous icon was made in Russia by a Russian Christian artist in 1887 and paid for by the late Ioannis Rokakis of Kissamos. Today it has a silver coat, a gift by an anonymous Christian, and on it there is a multitude of valuable dedications by the clergy and the faithful, as well as offerings with the shape of the healed body part of sick and suffering people that felt relief or were cured thanks to the interference and mediation of our great Father and Saint.
At the bottom right corner of the icon there is an inscription with a brief history and the continuous miraculous intervention by the Saint on the land and its people.
ECCLESIASTICAL MUSEUM OF THE PARISH
We consider it our obligation and duty to safeguard our ecclesiastical treasures and national heritage. There cannot be a civilised people or nation that does not respect, make the most of and safeguard the treasures of the past, which are its face in the world and its civilization in the present and the future.
Our parish, taking this duty seriously, it was with great respect that it erected this ecclesiastical museum which exhibits and safeguards holy relics and spiritual treasures that escaped the sacrilege of the past and define the land’s culture.
Our parish museum hosts icons of different styles and periods that form interesting groups, spanning over a period of at least two centuries. The museum is also adorned by fine-art sacred items (crosses for blessing and consecration, chalices, incense holders, candle holders, antimensions) and 19th and 20th century liturgy books, most precious of which is the holy gospel of 1818 written in special writing, as well as sacred clerical and high-ranking priest vestments of late priests and high priests of our parish, the Metropolis.
Besides the other precious relics, our museum hosts a brocade clerical costume, a gift offered by the wife of Prince George II.
The visitors’ book is signed daily by locals and foreigners who visit it and look upon it as a living testament of love and respect to the local tradition and history and we believe they leave with good impressions.
Seated in the town of Kissamos, it comprises the parishes of Kissamos and Selino west of the Chania Prefecture. The Bishopric of Selinos was a separate entity. In 1860, it merged with that of Kissamos to form the Bishopric of Kissamos and Selino. In 1962, they were raised to Metropolis of Kissamos and Selino (as with the rest of the Metropolises in Crete) and the Bishop was created Metropolite, by act of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Its history spans centuries and is documented in the very first report by the Bishop of Kissamos from Efkissos, as he attended the Council of Sardica in 343 BC, and the lead seal of the 6th or 7th century, kept at the Museum of Rethymnon,…
The convent of the Parthenon is a contemporary convent dedicated to Saint Mary of the Spring. It was founded in 1905 and renovated in 1962. It housed the Urban School for Girls and the first School for the Deaf and Dumb in Crete