Thursday, 7 October 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
131, Saint Theodore Trichinás, the Fortezza, Rethymnon

The Church of Saint Theodore Trichinás is one of two surviving small churches 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 (7 October 2021) are from the Church of Saint Theodore Trichinás, one of two surviving small churches in the Fortezza in Rethymnon.

Inside the Church of Saint Theodore Trichinás on the Fortezza (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.

During the Ottoman period, from 1646, 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 World War II, the residents gradually started moving from the Fortezza and down into the town below. Today, the Fortezza is managed by the Municipality of Rethymnon. Many of the buildings have been restored, and the Fortezza remains the landmark of Rethymnon.

The Church of Saint Theodore Trichinás is a single-aisle, barrel-vaulted chapel situated between the bastions of Saint Nicholas and Saint Paul.

Saint Theodore Trichinás, a fourth/fifth century monk from Constantinople, is so-called because of his practice of wearing a hairshirt throughout his life. His feast day is on 20 April.

The church was dedicated on 21 March 1899 in the presence of the Russian commander of the allied forces in Rethymnon, General Theodor de Chiostak, during the period of the Cretan State (1898-1913). The general also renovated the bishop’s palace on Mousoúrou Street, near the cathedral, at his own expense.

The biggest bell in Saint Barbara’s Church in the old town also has the name of Theodor de Chiostak, and the other six bells have the names of six Russian regiments.

However, Saint Theodore’s Church was probably not a new church, and the building project may have involved repairing an older, original Venetian church.

Today, many couples in Rethymnon choose a simple, plain wedding in this little church in the setting of a pretty pine copse.

Votive candles burning in the Church of Saint Theodore Trichinás (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Luke 11: 5-13 (NRSVA):

5 [And Jesus] said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” 7 And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

9 ‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

The church was dedicated in 1899 in the presence of the Russian commander in Rethymnon, General Theodor de Chiostak (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (7 October 2021) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for Lumad communities across the Philippines. May they be free from persecution and enabled to live as they wish.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The church is a venue of choice for couples in Rethymnon seeking a simple, plain wedding (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

Rethymnon, with its churches and former mosques, spreads below the fortifications of the Fortezza (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

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