06 October 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
130, Saint Catherine, the Fortezza, Rethymnon

Saint Catherine’s is a small church in the Fortezza in Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

Before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. Each morning in the time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

My theme for these few weeks is churches in Rethymnon on the island of Crete, where I spent two weeks last month.

My photographs this morning (6 October 2021) are from Saint Catherine’s Church, one of two surviving small churches in the Fortezza in Rethymnon.

Inside Saint Catherine’s Church in the Fortezza in Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The Fortezza towers above the city of Rethymnon. It was built by the Venetians during their rule in Crete (1204-1669) to protect the city and people from Ottoman invasions. It is built on the hill of Paleokastro and the site the acropolis of ancient Rithymna.

The Fortezza was founded on 13 September 1573, based on designs by the Italian engineer Sforza Pallavicini, and it was completed in the 1580. The original Venetian plan envisaged moving the entire city permanently into the new fortress. However, the city’s residents were unwilling to move, and the space was inadequate. Finally, only the Venetian administration and guard settled there.

The Fortezza was surrendered to the Ottomans in 1646, and in the decades that followed the form of the Fortezza did not change significantly, apart from minor extensions and additions, and the number of residents increased.

During the German occupation of Crete in World War II, the German garrison settled in the Fortezza and turned some of the buildings into prisons and dormitories. After the Germans left, the residents gradually started moving from the Fortezza and down into the town below.

Many ruined buildings were demolished and the Fortezza became the responsibility of the Municipality of Rethymnon. Since then, great efforts have been invested in restoration work, and the Fortezza remains the landmark of Rethymnon.

Saint Catherine’s Church lies immediately south of the former Episcopal Residence, which is beside the Sultan Ibrahim Khan Mosque, first built as Saint Nicholas Cathedral. The church is a small, single-aisle, barrel-vaulted church, with a simple, wooden iconostasis or icon scree. It was built in the 19th century over a cistern, and was refurbished in 1985.

The simple wooden iconostasis or icon screen in Saint Catherine’s Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Luke 11: 1-4 (NRSVA):

1 [Jesus] was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ 2 He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’

An icon of Saint Catherine in Saint Catherine’s Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (6 October 2021) invites us to pray:

We pray for the Save Our Schools network and the work they do to bring human rights issues in the Philippines to light.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

An icon of the Presentation of the Theotokos or the Virgin Mary in Saint Catherine’s Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Fortezza towers above the city and harbour of Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

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