The Monastery of the 98 Holy Fathers is located in a lush green area near the village Azogyres, Selino province. It was built in 1864 by Konstantinos Kriaris at the site where, according to tradition, the 99 Holy Fathers lived, led by Saint John the Hermit, one of the best known Saints of Crete, who is considered the founder of asceticism on the island.
The church of the 98 monks was built inside the rock and celebrates on October 7. In the Monastery there is a small museum with religious relics, historical and folkloric items.
The legend of the 99 Holy Fathers
According to tradition, in early 1600, 36 hermits left Egypt and arrived in Cyprus, seeking for a lonely place to dedicate themselves to God. But their fame spread all over the island and many Cypriots visited them to admire their lifestyle, (38 Cypriots were added to them). Seeking again for a remote place to live, the 75 Fathers migrated to Antalya, where the things happened and 24 more Fathers were added. The 99 Fathers decided to migrate elsewhere and not to add any more hermits to them, as the 100th would be the Lord Christ.
Their next stop was meant to be Crete and its easternmost part, Sitia. However, a storm forced them to land on Gavdos, where they stayed for 24 days till the sea calmed down. Afterwards they left to the opposite site of Crete, Sfakia area, but when they arrived they realized that John the Hermit was missing and waited for him. John then used his mantle as a boat, his stick as a mast and his robe as a sail, and reached Sfakia . After this wonder, all together roamed the area and eventually settled at the cave of Azogyres and under the monumental plane tree.
John the Hermit looked for the absolute isolation and decided to retire to another place, completely alone. At their last common pray, the Fathers begged God to fulfill a wish: all of them to die together on the same day. John left the 98 Fathers back, wandered around Marathokefala and finally arrived at Akrotiri, where he lived at today's cave of monastery Katholiko for many years.
One day, as John was gathering greens for food, a shepherd thought that he was a goat and hit him with his bow. John returned injured to his cave and the shepherd followed his blood track, asking him forgiveness. John died on October 6, 1632, after telling: " I forgive you but the most important is that the God that loves the salvation of people will accept your repentance .... ".
Pilgrims of Christians learned about the death of St. John the Hermit and reached the cave, from where a fragrance of incense emerged and some patient regained their health. At the same time of St. John’s death, the 98 Fathers at cave of Azogyres died. In fact it was such a sudden death that many of them were seated, leaning on sticks or praying. Then chapels were built at Akrotiri (the currently ruined monastery of Katholiko) and Azogyres.