82 imagesrare glimpse at the daily life of the most important Orthodox monastery on the island of Crete to discover what lies behind the spirituality of the sumptuous ceremonies of the Orthodox Church. There are forty monks at Agyos Georgyos Epanosifi (St George Epanosifi) monastery, twenty-five live permanently here while the others are scattered around the world of the Greek diaspora, with four bishops witnessing the prestige of this monastery founded between 1590 and 1592 but destroyed several times by Turks and earthquakes. This tormented history left as heritage and architecture more reminiscent of a traditional Greek village than the classic Orthodox monastery built as a fortress. However, San Giorgio Epanosifi hides a spirituality dating back to Christianity's arrival at Crete when Jesus Christ was still alive. "In Crete, the monasteries are part of our identity more than in any other Greek region because for centuries they defended the population from the Turks but also because the first Christians who arrived here had learned directly from Christ,” explains Father Athinagòras, a former university professor. "This is why in Crete, the religious tradition resists more than elsewhere in Greece, perhaps also because, like all the islands, we are less connected with the world." To understand is necessary to observe every gesture and every symbol, especially during collective moments when solemn beards, coffees, and sweets are the background of a real brainstorming between monks, animated discussions that touch all the strings of an eloquence that goes back to the times of Homer. "The monastery changes with the outside world," explains the abbot, Igoumenos in Greece, Bartolomeos. "To be able to speak to monks who increasingly come from different backgrounds, one must know psychology because this is a brotherhood, not an army." Many Cretans love San Giorgio Epanosifi and even more on the days when Pentecost is celebrated, one of the most important holidays for the Orthodox church when the lights of the large chandeliers illuminate the faithful who devoutly kiss the sacred icons. After more than four hours of celebration, the day continues with a collective lunch in the refectory, and then every monk withdraws into his house. It is the time of the monks still today, so different from ours. This monolithic world, seen from the inside, combines ancient spirituality, moments of Mediterranean humanity, and subtle tricks worthy of Kafka and Ionesco to defend their privacy. This mix is the real secret of a community able to live together, capable of fierce discussions but a moment later finding a deep friendship again.