May 4, 2024

The Blessing of the Sheep on Good Friday: A Unique Tradition from a Monastery in Crete

Again this year, the flocks of sheep whose fold is close to the Sacred Monastery of Saint George in Epanosifis, a village of Heraklion, Crete, received the blessing of the God-man Christ, just hours before the proclamation of His Resurrection.

Hundreds of believers gathered on the evening of Good Friday in the beautiful centuries-old Monastery to take part in the Procession of the Epitaphios, and of course to pass under it themselves, as is the tradition before re-entering the church after the outdoor procession, to be blessed and sanctified.

At the Monastery of Epanosifis, the procession takes place both around the katholikon (central church) of the Monastery as well as the cells of the monks, then a few hundred meters further down to the cemetery of the Monastery and a nearby barn of a cattle breeder.

When they arrive at the barn, the people who look after the sheep open the door where the animals are kept, in front of which the men holding the Epitaphios stop.

With the faithful forming an imaginary path, left and right, the animals, stunned by the unexpected crowd, begin to run, prance, and pass under the Epitaphios.

It is a tradition that spans many years in this Cretan village, when man was in constant harmony and contact with nature and animals, which he did not forget even on feasts and made sure that they also received the blessing of the Church, since they helped provide for their own well-being and thus needed protection for their own survival and well-being.
Below are videos and photos of the event from 2021-2023: 


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