The Holy Myrtle of

Paliani

The Holy Myrtle
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Paliani Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Crete and it has as a trademark a very old myrtle tree (Myrtus communis). This specific myrtle is considered sacred (Holy Myrtle) and is honored on September 24. Inside the trunk of the Holy Myrtle, as they say, is believed to be the icon of Panagia Mirtidiotissa (Virgin Mary of Myrtle).

According to the tradition, once the area was covered by forest and the villagers set fire to create farmlands. Suddenly, the voice of Virgin Mary was heard and the surprised villagers found the icon of Virgin Mary, with branches of myrtle painted around her. Some time, when some children went to the same place, they saw that the painted branches had sprouted and the trunk gradually covered the icon! The icon of Virgin Mary is visible only by children.

If you visit Paliani, you will see a lit candle next to the myrtle and many offerings hung on its branches, as it is considered miraculous. The cult of Holy Myrtle is actually a survival of ancient religious habits and more specifically the worship of sacred trees in the Minoan religion.

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