Temple and Graves of Ten Saints

Agii Deka

Temple and Graves of Ten Saints (Agii Deka)
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The village Agii Deka (Ten Saints) is named after the ten Cretan Christians that martyred there during the persecutions carried out by Decius in 250 AD. The Saints’ names were Agathopos, Basilides, Gelasios, Evarestos, Evnikianos, Efporos, Zotikos, Theodoulos, Pompios and Saturninos. At the point where they martyred, at position Alonion, there is the three-aisled basilica of the 12th century dedicated to the Ten Saints (celebr. December 23).

The first temple was built inside the Roman arena of the amphitheater of Gortyn where the Saints were beheaded. Indeed, the central aisle is built at a lower level than the rest two, which corresponds to the level of the arena. It was probably founded on the ruins of an early Christian basilica during the mid-Byzantine period, as indicated by the ceramic decoration.

Extensive alterations took place at the beginning of the Venetian occupation, when its superstructure was rebuilt, but also during the 20th century, when the narthex was formed. The central aisle is covered with a pointed arch and the side aisles with quarter-cylindrical. The aisles are divided by rows of three columns. The temple was decorated with frescoes, probably of the 13th century, from which a few surviving depictions of martyrs are preserved.

Agia Limni

A few meters nearby, at the point where the Ten Saints were buried, there are the graves and the church of Agia Limni (Holy Lake), built in 1915-1917. The reason for the construction of the temple was the unveiling of tombs that were unearthed in the early 20th century, when a small lake that existed here was drained. In fact, the tombs, which can be seen in a catacomb below the temple, have been associated with many wonders.

The marble plaque where the saints are said to have kneeled before their decapitation is stored in a special showcase in the main church of Ten Saints.

In 2017, after 187 years, the church hosted the icon of the Saints Ten Martyrs which was moved from Agii Deka to Tolo in Argolida by expelled Cretans in 1830. The icon is kept in the church of Saints Constantine and Helen in Tolo.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Church
  • Accessibility: Paved road

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