Saint Nicholas Kourtaliotis, the Ascetic of Crete (+ 1670)

We know almost nothing of the life of St. Nicholas save for what has been handed from local tradition. We are told he lived in the 17th century and died around 1670. He was a Rethymnian. When he was a young boy he possessed a charitable nature and would give his father’s grapes and oil to the poor. Because of this, the grapes would multiply every harvest and the oil vessels would always remain full. Seeing the boy’s charitable nature, his father gave his blessing to allow him to fully devote his life to Christ. It was at that time he went to live an ascetic life as a youth. Local tradition says that for a period of his life he lived in asceticism in Messaras, Heraklion.
Before his death he decided to return to the province of Saint Vasilios where he was born together with another man from Messara. This man, while hunting one day, shot St. Nicholas with an arrow by mistake, and according to the wishes of St. Nicholas, he was brought to the area where his chapel is today. It was then that St. Nicholas worked his miracle dividing the five streams, in order to assuage the thirst of his accidental killer. Today the five springs and the countless miracles, given to both Muslims and Christians, are a testimony to the sanctity of St. Nicholas, and thousands come to his chapel on a yearly basis. It is said he is buried near this chapel, but his grave has yet to be revealed. This chapel was built in 1838 and celebrates its feast on September 1st. Some say the chapel was built by a Turk to honor the Saint after a miracle.
Pious Rethymnians have built a second church to honor the Saint on top of the western part of the city, among the wild steep rocks and bushes of Akrovateres, high above the sea.