The seaside Monastery Panagia Odigitria Gonia
is located at the base of the peninsula of Spatha 2.5km north of Kolymbari. The monastery is also known as Lady of the Angels Monastery of Gonia (Gonia = Corner) due to its location on the western edge-corner of the bay of Chania.
In the 9th century hermits founded the monastery of Saint George (Agios Georgios) in Menies on the site of the ancient sanctuary of Diktynna. Because of the constant pirate raids, the monks of St. George moved to the current position of the cemetery and founded the first monastery of Panagia. The new Monastery Panagia Odigitria Gonia was founded by monk Vlasios at this position in the 17th century, his work being continued by monk Venedictos Tzagarolas.
Also, a noble of Chania called George Moumouris donated a huge fortune to the monastery, which helped in its construction significantly.
The monastery soon flourished, as a rich monastic tradition was developed in Spatha and the monks soon gathered in Gonia.
The Monastery Panagia Odigitria Gonia played an important role in local history.
It has always been a shelter for the rebels of Crete and, thus, it was destroyed many times by the Turks and the Germans. This is also witnessed by a canon ball stuck in the east wall.
Today, the monastery gives a live testimony in Orthodoxy and Hellenism in general and our country in particular. The Monks serve the religious and spiritual needs in many villages, volunteer in charitable institutions of the Metropolis of Kissamos and Selinou, teach in local schools, while they are primarily involved in worship, spiritual and communal life of the monastery and uphold the tradition of Orthodoxy and the Greek race.
Moreover, the Monastery Panagia Odigitria Gonia, in recent years, has produced significant pieces of land for the development of facilities in the region of Kolymbari such as: the High School, the Agricultural Association, the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, the Center for Rural Development, the Ecclesiastical Boarding School, the Stadium, the County Court, etc. Last but not least, it offered a substantial piece of land, just tens of meters from it, for the establishment of the Orthodox Academy of Crete.
History of the Monastery Panagia Odigitria Gonia in short
- 1618: The monk Vlasios founded the new monastery of Gonia in its current position.
- 1634: The construction of the Holy Temple dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary was completed.
- 1662: The monastery became stavropegic, i.e. directly managed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
- 1805: The chapels of St. Nicholaos and St. Charalambos were built.
- 1821: Inside the premises of the monastery operated a hospital for the wounded rebels.
- 1897: The last important Cretan revolution before the autonomy of Crete in 1898 started from the beach of the monastery of Gonia. 1500 men disembarked here, led by Timoleontas Vassos and declared the liberation of Crete “in the name of the King of Greece.”
- 1899: The great bell tower was built to replace the old one.
- 1941: Before the occupation of Crete by the Germans, Englishmen engineers of the airport of Maleme were hosted there. The monks took part in the Battle of Crete. The Germans occupied the monastery and the monks were imprisoned in Chania prisons, after the Germans found guns inside the chapel.
- 1942: (Passion Week – Easter): The Monastery was partially reopened, as it had been turned into a Camp until the liberation.
- Today, the Monastery Panagia Odigitria Gonia owns a great collection of precious relics, icons and religious treasures from the 15th and 17th century.
(text from Iera Mitropolis Kissamou and Selinou)