The Holy Stavropegiac and Patriarchal Preveli Monastery of Saint John the Theologian (Evangelist), known as the Monastery of Preveli is located at the south of Prefecture of Rethymnon and it is the most sacred part of the Holy Diocese of Lambis and Sfakion, in whose the spiritual jurisdiction belongs.
The monastery is consisted of two main building complexes, the Lower (Kato) Monastery of Saint John the Baptist and the Rear (Pisso) Monastery of Saint John the Theologian which is in operation today
The Preveli Monastery and its dependencies cover a large estate land of the Phoenix Municipality towards the Libyan sea and along the Great River (Megalos Potamos), which ends at this point.
There are strong indications that the first core of the Monastery was organized on the area of the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist or Kato Monastiri (the lower monastery), during the II Byzantine period of Crete, around the 10th or the beginning of the 11th century, when many monasteries were established on the south coast of Crete. The oldest date related to the monastery is 1594, and it is engraved on a bell of the monastery. The monastery was probably founded during the Venetian occupation by a feudal lord known as Prevelis. When in 1649 the Turks occupied Crete, they destroyed numerous church establishments, among them the monastery of Preveli.
The Monastery has a glorious history due to the active and leading involvement of its fellow monks in all national endeavourers for freedom and education of our people. Thus, it merits specific recognition and respect throughout the island of Crete.
A substantial number of icons is kept in the Monastery of Preveli. The icons compose interesting teams, covering a period from the first half of the 17th to the end of 19th century approximately, an era that the good tradition of Crete has been interrupted by the Turkish conquest. The most important exhibits of the Museum are:
* Sigillium on a parchment declaring the monastery as stauropegion, 1798.
* Gold - plated silver cross with enamels and semi - precious stones 1708.
* Silver bound Evangile, 1807.
* Evangile with gold - plated silver cover, 1847.
* Lectionnary with silver cover, 19th century.
* Gold - plated chalice with cover, 1847.
* Collection of metal seals, 19th century.
* Collection of metal fibulae, 19th century.
* Collection of gold - embroidered vestments, 19th century.
* Collection of ecclesiastical liturgical vessels.
Preveli's Benediction Cross
The miracle - working
Eulogistic Cross of Efraim Prevelis
(B' half of 18th century)
This miraculous relic constitutes the "Palladium" of the Monastery and is associated with many miracles especially related with eye diseases. It's a big silver cross (Dim. 0.56x0.25) with wider points at the ends and protruded decorative buttons and anthemia in a wire working process.
The Cross was carried in the front line in every battle thus greatly encouraging the fighters. In 1823, in the unequal battle against the Turks at Amourgeles, in Monofatsiou province, the Holy Symbol was lost. The Cross was found at the end of 1823 in the hands of Genoese sailors, who had purchased it in Heraklion. According to the legend, they returned the Cross to the Monastery when their ship simply stop in the water, in a a quite mysterious way, while sailing in the Libyan sea near the Monastery of Preveli and was able to proceed only after the precious relic was given back. In 1941, German officers removed the Cross from the Monastery and attempted to send it in Germany. The airplane though which would transfer the Holy Symbol away could not take off. They put the Cross in another airplane without result, nor the second airplane could start. They attributed this event to the Holy Symbol, so few days after the looting, the Cross was back at its position. It was September 13, eve of the Holy Cross exaltation, the celebrating day of the Monastery.