If these ancient church walls could talk, oh the stories they would tell.
The Venetian Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Heraklion is welcoming the Southern California Choral Ambassadors directed by Mr. Michael Ushino on Sunday, June 25 for a matinee concert in Heraklion.
The choir is formed by 20+ students from San Juan Hills High School in California touring with their teacher as an independent tour to Greece and they are honored to be the first ever American ensemble to be welcomed to perform in this historical space.
Dating back to the 13th century when Crete was under Venetian rule, the Monastery Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is considered one of the island’s most important landmarks.
Let’s hear from DailyCrete.com about the history and significance. “Despite countless damage and changes over time, the impressive monument survived to the present day and is an integral cultural and religious heritage of the city.”
The website continues to share the history of this stunning venue for our singers from Southern California for their Cretan highlight concert that was made possible by the spiritual leadership. If you’d rather see and hear the story being told, below’s also a video link.
“Located in the vicinity of the fortified wall of Candia (the Venetian name of the city of Heraklion), between the Old Port and the Dermatas Gate, the temple originally served as the Katholikon (main church) of the Dominican Monastic Order. It was one of the largest and most important Catholic monasteries in Heraklion.
The first church was a stone building with a single aisle, with a two-sided sloped wooden roof, a single transept, and a rectangular, tiered altar, covered by two vaults. By the 15th century, the Venetians had gradually added four chapels to the south side of the church. In one it can be seen some remains of six-centuries-old fresco, unique in Heraklion. In the chapels, but also around the church walls were housed the graves of some political and religious leaders of the city.
The structure’s large (54 meters long, 15 meters wide, and 12 meters high), but lacking buttresses to ensure its strength, suffered major damage during earthquakes that occurred between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. During the Turkish occupation, the monastery, partially destroyed, was transformed into a mosque, with a minaret in the southwest corner.
Recent restoration work has revealed remnants of the Ottoman period, including the mihrab (altar) of mosques, gravel floors, and a ceramic kiln. Moreover, the excavations have brought to light tombs dating from the second Byzantine period (11th century) and under them, a rich dwelling from the Arab period (9th century – first half of the 10th century) was discovered. In the courtyard of the monastery can be admired the remains of these buildings, which provided historians with valuable information about the architecture and lifestyle of that era. The objects discovered are on display at the Museum of History in Heraklion.
With the support of the Archaeological Service and the Archdiocese of Crete, the Monastery was rebuilt in its original form. From an architectural point of view, due to its age and the elements of French and Italian inspiration from the 13th century, this historic building is valuable not only locally, but also in Europe. In order to be protected and preserved, the sanctuary was taken over by the Greek Ministry of Culture, being today used only as a venue for festive gatherings and international cultural and religious congresses.
It is open to the public on June 29 of each year, the day dedicated to Saints Peter and St. Paul, on the occasion of which religious services are held with invited hierarchs, and exhibitions of icons and religious art are hosted for several days.
Save the Concert Date: Sunday, June 25, 2023
The Southern California Choral Ambassadors sing at the Venetian Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Heraklion, Crete on Sunday June 25, 2023 at 11 am.