The abbot of the Preveli monastery

By on November 15th    /    Crete, Culture, Islands, People    /    0 Comments   /   show comments

 

I will not write here about the famous monastery of , located to the south of , in . I will not write about the famous Prevelis palm forest and the picturesque river that crosses it. I am writing about the heroic abbot of the monastery and its short story during the years of German occupation in , at the Second World War.

It was April, and I was traveling in Rethymno region to make a travel guide. That day was drizzle and overcast and I was driving along in the valley. It is one of my favorite places in Crete; a narrow valley covered with olive groves that lie between and Kouloukonas mountains, seeded with small villages and many unknown monuments. Nice smooth landscapes full of many surprises …

 

Κοιλάδα Αμαρίου, Ρέθυμνο, Κρήτη

Joanna, a friend from Rethymno  was accompanying me. And she led me to the story of the legendary Agathangelos Lagouvardos, the  heroic abbot of the monastery of Prevelis.

The shepherd George Lagouvardos grandson of the legendary Agathangelos Langouvardos lives in village. We caught up with Mr. George and he drove us home. It was raining steadily …

At the old home of George all relics , decorations, medals and commendations given after death to the abbot Agathaggelos Lagouvardos by the governments of England , New Zealand and Australia are kept honorably. The abbot was honored for his extraordinary help to the Allies’ troops during the years of German occupation .

 

Κοιλάδα Αμαρίου, Ρέθυμνο, Κρήτη

 

Agathangelos was abbot in the monastery of Preveli during the years after the Battle of Crete and at his village home  he gathered British , New Zealanders and Australians, all of them soldiers blocked in the island of Crete after the Allies’ defeat at the famous Battle.

From that house he gradually transferred them to the monastery of Preveli and then he brought them down to the beach with the palm trees, where the Allies’ submarines took them and whisked them away to safe ground, usually in Egypt. When the Germans realized what happened- after many soldiers had been whisked already – the magnanimous and benevolent abbot Agathangelos preferred to leave his home and country, for not causing retaliation in the villages. And so it happened. And the Germans did not destroy Amari area…

He abandoned Crete and arrived in Alexandria, in Egypt. There he put under oath, according to the ritual, the first Greek government of National unity, which consisted of George Papandreou, Tsirimokos Porphyrogenitus and others. One day before returning to Greece , Agathangelos died mysteriously in Alexandria.

The small house of Lagouvardos family in the village keeps up on the whitewashed walls the memory of the legendary Abbot of Preveli monastery. Like a small flame that warms inside us the love for the fellow man …

I photographed an old photo showing the Abbot decorated, we drank a littke “raki” at his memory, we thanked Mr.Giorgis and went out on the streets .

It was just after the rain had stopped … The strong smells and aromas made me dizzy … Mists rise above the houses in the valley. I entered the car with Joanna and set out to cross the, freshly from rain, olive groves.

Deep in the skyline the sparkled under the afternoon light…

 

Κοιλάδα Αμαρίου, Ρέθυμνο, Κρήτη

 

 

Where am I ?

Apostoli village and the Amari Valley are located in the southern prefecture of Rethymno. You get here by car, driving from the town of Rethymnon, following the main road to and Agia Galini villages. At Spili you leave the main road and follow the paved road to Amari and  Agia Fotini that leads you to the northern entrance of the valley.


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