January 25, 2012 // Uncategorized

St. Paul preached and baptized converts

Where is Crete where St. Paul’s ship was caught in a hurricane?

St. Paul was continuing his journey by ship from Jerusalem to Rome when he encountered a hurricane and unexpectedly had to land at the Greek island of Crete (or Kriti). Crete is the largest of the Greek islands in the eastern Mediterranean Sea southeast of mainland Greece. Crete is famous for its ancient Minoan civilization (300-2100 B.C.) and its ancient paintings and ruins are very interesting to see.

O. Meinardus says that St. Paul’s ship anchored at Fair Havens in Crete about the end of the first week of October, AD 61. Here the ship stayed for possibly three weeks waiting for the wind to change. Fair Havens (or Kaloi Limenes) is the name of a small village, a bay and a group of islets on the southern coast of Crete.

In 1851 Captain Spratt anchored his paddle steamer where St. Paul’s ship had sought shelter. On a ridge over the bay Spratt found the ruins of a Greek chapel dedicated to St. Paul, perhaps marking the very spot where Paul himself used to preach to the natives of Crete.

Today the existing white chapel, commemorating St. Paul’s arrival on Crete, is situated on the brow of the hill overlooking the bay. It is built upon the site of the former church. A few yards to the west of the church is the traditional cave where St. Paul stayed. This cave is marked by a very tall cross. There are houses in Fair Havens scattered around the bay.

Another town of Crete is called Phoenix (modern Loutro) and is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. Loutro was a better harbor for waiting out the winter. The people of Loutro maintain that St. Paul visited their town. Today there is a little chapel of St. Paul and a spring of St. Paul between the coastal towns of Loutro and Aglia Roumeli. This chapel commemorates the site where St. Paul baptized his first Cretan converts. A service is held in this chapel each year on June 29, the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul.

St. Paul’s companion Titus became the first bishop of Crete. There is an epistle of St. Paul to Titus in the New Testament.

At Gortyna, the capital of Crete during the Roman period when St. Paul lived, you can see the ruins of the Church of St. Titus, which dates from the 4th century A.D. Tradition says St. Paul appointed St. Titus the bishop of Crete on the site of this church. In this church you can see the beautiful shrine of St. Titus. At Herakleion on Crete you can visit the large Cathedral of St. Titus and see a beautiful large icon of St. Paul.

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