Crete’s Own Saint of Love

Yakinthos

February 14th is the globally celebrated day of Saint Valentine, the day of lovers. Millions of stores around the world are lavishly dressed in red and large amounts of roses, chocolates and stuffed animals are sold and consumed, often at high prices. However, few people know that Crete has its own saint of love, Saint Yakinthos, the saint of pure sentiments, creation and inspiration.

Saint Yakinthos of Anogeia, is celebrated every year on July 3rd, on the mountainous area of Anogeia in Rethemno. The “Yakintheia” — as the feast is called — are celebrated every summer and constitute a benchmark of cultural events that last for three days and have grown popular inside and outside of the country. According to the Cretan tradition, people visit the temple of Saint Yakinthos, a small, round temple made of stone that is built on Psiloreitis, at a height of 1,200 meters.

According to the Orthodox Church, Saint Yakinthos was a chamber maid of Emperor Traianos, who had asked him to renounce his faith to Christ. Yakinthos had refused to and he was imprisoned 12 kilometers south of Anogeia in Crete and was fed food steeped in blood from animals that had been sacrificed to idols. The Saint refused to eat for 40 days and died of hunger at 20 years old. The guards found him in his cell surrounded by angels who held candles. Emperor Traianos ordered for Yakinthos’s body to be thrown to the wild animals, but the body remained untouched as the angels guarded it.