The highly impressive temple of St. Fanourios at Kitharida, currently used as a cemetery, was the temple of an important male monastery of Panagia Eleousa (Our Lady the Merciful). The monastery was a dependency of the Monastery of Saint Irene.
The church consists of three naves dedicated to Saint Charalambos, the Assumption and Saint Fanourios, and a narthex placed in front of the sanctuary. On every aisle there is a dome. The fact that there is a dome over the sanctuary is very rare in Cretan churches. The exterior of the church is decorated with circular shapes with particular paintings, mainly birds.
The monastery is believed to have operated since the 11th century. References make it clear that in 1175 the monastery was rebuilt in the place of damaged older buildings. The narthex was added during the Venetian era. In 1822 the monks were massacred by the Turks, the monastery was looted and the rich library was burnt.
- 11th century: The Monastery of Kera Merciful is operating already.
- 1175: The monastery gets reconstructed because the buildings are already very old. The venue is owned by the monk Theophilus.
- 1204-1669 (Venetian Era): The narthex is attached.
- 1672: The monk Neophytos lives “at a monastery near Sarchos”, probably the monastery of Kitharida
- 1696: The abbot of the monastery is called Gerasimos.
- 1745: The Turks give permission for the restoration of the ruined temple.
- 1822: The Turks of Sherif Pasha massacre the monks and burn the monastery. The library gets burned and the sacred vessels are looted.
- 1825: The reconstruction of the monastery starts.
- 1841-1866: A school starts its operation in the monastery.
- 1842: The monastery is deserted.
- 1858:A new trial for reconstructing the monastery starts by Abbot Meletios .
- 1860: The economical state of monastery is in a tragic situation.
- Revolution of 1866: The Turks destroy the monastery and the school.
- 1894: Reconstruction efforts do not succeed and the monastery gets deserted.
- 1898: There is a caretaker for the property, but the monastery has terminated its operation.