Metropolis of Gortyna and Arcadia

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The Metropolis of Gortyna and Arcadia is a metropolis within the Archdiocese of Crete and under the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople. The Metropolis traces its origins to the missionary efforts of the Apostle Paul who had visited the harbor of Kaloi Limenes as prisoner en-route to Rome. (Acts: 27.8). The see of Gortyna was the principal bishopric of Crete until the destruction of the town of Gortyna in 824.


Ancient Gortyna was the civil capital of Crete and the center of the missionary activities of the Apostles Paul and Titus and of the bishops consecrated by Titus as his successors in Gortyna. Among the successors of Titus were St. Philip. Dioscoros, Cresces, the martyrs Cyril and Peter the Young, and St. Paul who translated of the relics of the Ten Saints.

The First Ecumenical Council established the rights of the Bishop of Gortyna among the bishops of Crete with the see established in Gortyna, a decision that lasted until 824. During this period the see saw a number of great hierarchs noted for their pastoral and theological writings and who participated in the third to seventh ecumenical councils. This era came to an end with the Arab invasions and conquest of Crete in 824. During the period from the Apostle Titus to St. Eutychius there were twenty seven bishops of Gortyna. Crete was in the ecclesiastical territory of the Bishop of Rome.

Gortyna was destroyed by the Arabs and its people enslaved and forced to become muslims. The civil center for Crete was moved to Heraklion. The only known bishops of Crete during the Arab period, both with the name Basil, lived in exile. In 961, emperor Nicephoros Phocas of Constantinople liberated Crete from the Arabs and re-organized the ecclesiastical territory of Crete as a province of the Church of Constantinople. With the re-organization, the see for Crete was moved to Chandakas, as the city of Heraklion was renamed by the Arabs. With the recovery of Crete from the Arabs, re-evangelization of the Cretans began under the leadership of such people as John the Hermit of Ksenos, Nikon the Metanoeite (Repent), and Helias.

The next invasion came from the west as Venetians seized the island in 1204 as part of the Fourth Crusade that conquered Constantinople. The Venetians expelled the Orthodox clergy and brought in Latin clerics who strongly endeavored to convert the people by force and propaganda. Ordination of Orthodox deacons and priests had to be done outside of Crete. However, the monasteries of Crete flourished and kept the spirit of Orthodoxy alive. Among the monastics who maintained the Orthodox spirit was Arsenios who taught the Jesus Prayer, way of hesychasm, to St. Gregory the Sinaite who then carried it to Mount Athos.

In 1669, the Venetians were expelled from Crete by the Ottoman Turks, allowing the reorganization again of the church on Crete as a province of the Church of Constantinople. Heraklion continued to be the seat of the eparch and the local synod of Crete, which could not function under the Ottoman rule. Instead the eparch was elected by the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople.

Under the Turks, the Christians Cretans were subjected to heavy taxation to induce them to become muslims. Through the following two centuries the Orthodox christians participated in a number of unsuccessful uprisings. Finally, in 1898, with the help of Greece, Crete was successfully liberated from the Ottoman empire and entered into a period of autonomy before its unification with Greece in 1913.

Following the liberation of Crete from the Ottomans, the church was again reorganized as an ecclesiastical province of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Under the Constitutional Law 276/1900 of the autonomous Cretan state, the Bishopric of Gortyna was reconstituted to include the greater part of the ancient Metropolis of Gortyna with the see in the village of Ten Saints (Agioi Deka). The first bishop of the reconstituted bishopric was Bp. Basil (Markakis) who served from 1902 until 1940.

In 1961, the name of the bishopric was changed to the Bishopric of Gortyna and Arcadia. Then, in 1967, it was designated by the Ecumenical Patriarchate as a Metropolis. In 2008, the metropolis had six monasteries and 114 parishes, served by a clergy of 123.

Ruling hierarchs since 1900


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