Celebrating the ‘Poliouchos’ of Heraklion

10/11/2014

Poliouchos‘ in Greek means “Patron Saint” and in Greece this is a reason for a public holiday and festivities in a given place. Every village, town and city in Greece has a patron saint who protects its community and in return she/ he is being celebrated with devotion.

Agios MinasFrom Flickr -Rue Mérindol
Saint Minas was declared as the patron saint of Heraklion during the Turkish period. Tradition says that on Easter Sunday 1826 the Christians were gathered in the church of Saint Minas attending the Resurrection service. At the same time a Muslim mob was ready to slaughter them. An aged officer on horseback, resembling their fiercest warrior, Ayan Agha, intervened, calming and dispersing the mob. The Christians attributed the appearance of the rider to a miracle of Saint Minas, believing that it was he, rather than Ayan Agha, who had appeared to the Turks.

Ever since, Saint Minas has been depicted as a Roman general on horseback and honored as the patron Saint of Heraklion. It is also notable that Saint Minas was considered to be the protector of the city not only for the Christians but also for the Turks, who regarded him with fear and respect.

In more recent times, Saint Minas is supposed to have protected his church during the heavy bombing of Heraklion on 23 May 1941. A large bomb fell on the cathedral but failed to explode is until today on view outside Saint Minas.

Each year on November 11 after the Divine Liturgy, a litany of the relics and venerable icon of Saint Minas takes place in the main streets of Heraklion. The litany brings out deep feelings of devotion. If you are in Heraklion , do not miss out this distinguished procedure.

Also… Happy Name Day to all people with the name Minas!

Interesting fact according to Explorecrete.com: 

Why the name Minas is rare in Heraklion?

‘The name Minas is rare in Heraklion, which sounds strange for a city whose patron saint he is. The reason for this is given in an old story that few now remember.

During the time of Turkish rule, illegitimate children were often left on the steps of the church of Saint Minas. The church took care of the children and named the boys Minas, after the saint at whose church they had been left. So, for many years in Heraklion the name Minas showed that the person bearing it was illegitimate, and people avoided giving their children that name’.

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