02 July 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
34, The Capuchin Friary, Chania

The Capuchin Friary in Chania is the only Roman Catholic monastic house in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During this time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

My photographs this morning (2 July 2021) are from the Capuchin Friary in Chania, continuing a week of photographs from monasteries in Crete.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the Greek War of Independence, and earlier in this series morning reflections, I have also visited Arkadi Monastery (1 May 2021) and the former Monastery of Saint Catherine of Mount Sinai in Iraklion (8 May 2021).

Inside the Cathedral of the Assumption in the grounds of the Capuchin Friary in Chania (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Capuchin Friary in Chania is the only Roman Catholic monastic house I have visited in Crete, and this is the only Roman Catholic religious community on the island.

Although technically this is not a monastery but a friary, and the members of the community are friars, not monks, the Greek word μονή (moní) is used indiscriminately for both a friary and a monastery.

The Capuchins founded their first house in Chania in 1567, during the period of Venetian rule, and remained there until the Turkish conquest of the city in 1645.

French Capuchins moved to Chania in 1674, registering as officials of the French Consulate. At first, they lived in the Kasteli area, not far from the old harbour. They built a small chapel, dedicated to the Dormition or Assumption of Our Lady, and this was functioning in the Capuchin residence by 1675.

During the short period of Egyptian rule in Crete (1830-1841), Father Serafim da Caltanissetta obtained a license to build a single-nave church with a small wooden bell tower. The new church opened in 1844, and from 1855 access was provided from Halidon Street through a gate at the Capuchin friary.

In the early 18th century, the Capuchins acquired a large plot of land near the Yusuf Pasha mosque, the former church of Saint Francis. There they built a new monastery at No 46 Halidon Street.

The church became the cathedral for the new Diocese of Crete in 1874. A new, triple-nave basilica, with neo-classical and renaissance features, was designed by the architect Vitaliano Poselli and opened in 1879.

Meanwhile, the old monastery was demolished in 1880, and a larger one was built to new designs by Poselli. The bell tower was built in 1882.

Two Capuchin friars – Father Angelo in Chania and Father Antonino in Iraklion – risked their lives and saved hundreds of Christians during the slaughters in the years 1896-1898, during the Cretan struggle for independence.

The bell tower was added to Capuchin monastery in 1882 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 9: 9-13 (NRSVA):

9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.

10 And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ 12 But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’

The Greek word μονή (moní) is used indiscriminately for both a friary and a monastery (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (2 July 2021) invites us to pray:

We pray for all Christians dealing with doubt and uncertainty. May they be embraced by Christian fellowship and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

A sundial on the monastery walls (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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

A statue of Saint Francis among the birds and the plants in the Capuchin gardens in Chania (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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