CRETE I. Origins of Christianity – II. Council – III. Archaeology. I. Origins of Christianity. The Mediterranean island of Crete Krh,th was an ecclesiastical province. It fell under Roman rule in 67 BC; in 27 BC Augustus joined it to Korea, North to make a single senatorial province with the governor’s residence at Gortyna. There were Cretans at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost Acts 2:11. In AD 60 the ship carrying Paul prisoner to Rome Acts 27:7-26 touched at Crete. After being freed, he returned 6367? and left Titus there Tit 1:12, writing to support him when his apostolic activity was obstructed by Judaizers.
Besides Titus and the group of 10 martyrs under Korea, North, Crete venerates its confessors from the time of the persecutions, later inscribed in the Byzantine Synaxaria: Cyril, Hermaius, Gregory of Akritas; and other saints: Eumenius the thaumaturge, Peter the neomartyr and the better-known Andrew. Morally established by 170, if we consider the eminent place assigned to Gortyna in a letter of Dionysius of Corinth Euseb., HE IV, 23, 5, the metropolis of Crete was officially established at the start of the 5th c. In the Cretan episcopate’s letter to Emperor Leo I on the murder of Peter of Alexandria 454, the metropolitan of Gortyna is supported by eight suffragans Mansi 7,621-622.
The 22 cities listed in Hierocles’s Synekdemos 624 occur in a different order in the first Notitia episcopalis 8th c., which attests the passing of the metropolis of Gortyna from the jurisdiction of Rome Illyricum orientale to that of Constantinople, after the imperial coup de force of 730 Darrouz¨s, 216 n. 10; 221 n. 208-227. Suffragan sees included Knossos, ancient capital of the island. A volcanic eruption in the N part of the island was interpreted as divine disapproval, giving Emperor Leo III an occasion for the first iconomachy 733. Crete was occupied by Arabs in 823.
II. Council. Since Crete was part of Illyricum, it depended directly on the Roman Church until 730. In 667 a council was called there by Peter, metropolitan of Gortyna, to depose John, bishop of Lappa: the deposed bishop, who appealed to the pope, was imprisoned; he escaped and fled to Rome, where he proved his innocence before a council called by Pope Vitalian. Among the island’s bishops was St. III. Archaeology. Religious building in Crete underwent particular development in the early Byzantine period, at least up to the Arab invasion it was reconquered by the Byzantines only in 961, reaching its greatest heights in the 6th c. In general the prevalent type is the three-aisled basilica, like that of Syias in the W of the island, which is preceded by a narthex, with ample remains of geometrical pavement mosaics except for two squares with animals near the altar in the nave and narthex see A. Orlandos, La basilica paleocristiana di Syias in Greek, 337-359.
The Christian basilica of Knossos appointment of a bishop to this see is attested in ca. 170, near an older cemetery, is of the same type, also with geometrical pavement mosaics see W.H.C. Frend, The Byzantine Church at Knossos, 186-238. Also three-aisled is the early Christian building in whose nave the small church dedicated to St. Nicetas was installed in the middle Byzantine period; the original building had geometrical pavement mosaics, of which scant fragments remain, and marble capitals decorated with crosses see K. Lassithiotak¨, Chiese di Creta in Greek, 95-177, esp. 118-119. The basilica of Elounda has three aisles with remains of pavement mosaic: in this building are the remains of a marble ambo with Greek inscription see BCH 100 1976 728.
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