Monastery of Sissia

Monastery of Sissia

Along the main road that runs from Argostoli to Poros, a turning to the right towards the sea leads to the Síssia Monastery. Tradition has it that the monastery was founded by St. Francis of Assisi himself, the protector of animals, birds and the world of nature. Thus the name Síssia is a corruption of Assisi. Others say that the name is just due to the Franciscan monks who founded the monastery in the 13th century.

In 1676 the Venetians instituted an annual procession from the Síssia Monastery to the church of Evangelistria in the village of Kastro (then still the capital) on the feast of St. Mark as a token of respect for the ‘Most Serene Republic’ of Venice (La Serenissima, as the Venetians liked to call their home country). Oddly enough, what had started as an obligation imposed on the monastery eventually became established as a religious custom, and the icon of the Virgin Mary is still carried in procession from the monastery to Kastro, a distance of twelve km, on Low Sunday (the first Sunday after Easter) every year. The icon is kept in the Church of Evangelistria at Kastro for three weeks before being carried back to the monastery in a procession on the fourth Sunday after Easter.

The monastery’s most valuable treasure is the icon of the Virgin Mary, painted in 1700 by the Cretan priest and icon-painter Stefanos Tzangarolas, which is kept in the nearby Ecclesiastical Museum of the Convent of St. Andreas.

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