The Monastery of Agia Aikaterine of Sinai,
which originally was a dependency of the respective Monastery on
Mount Sinai and today belongs to the metropolitan church of Agios Menas, was an important cultural and artistic centre
of Crete under Venetian occupation until the fall of Chandax (Herakleion) to the Ottoman Turks in 1669. During the Venetian
era, the Monastery housed an Academy, where, according to the historical tradition, taught important Cretan scholars of the 16th
century, such as Ioannis Morezenos, Ioasaph Doreianos, Ieremias Palladas. Students of the same school were the later
patriarchs of Constantinople Meletios Pegas and Kyrillos Loukaris.
The preserved katholikon of the Monastery
and the chapel of Agioi Deka today house a collection of representative works of the Cretan Byzantine and Post-Byzantine art,
which functions under the auspices of the Communication and Education Department of the Holy Archdiocese of Crete. Among
the exhibits are the icons attributed to the reknowned Cretan painter of the 15th century Angelos, as well as six icons by Michael
Damaskenos, among the most important works of the Cretan School of icon painting of the 16th century. The 13th Ephorate of
Byzantine Antiquities has also included in this collection detached
wall paintings from the church of Michael Archangelos at
Preveliana of Monofatsio, from the church of Panagia at
Patsos of Amari, and from other monuments of the island.
The following collections are on display:
• Ecclesiastical books and manuscripts
• Ecclesiastical vessels and relics
Some of the most important exhibits are:
- "St Phanourios", portable icon of the 15th century from the Odegetria Monastery at Kainourio, attributed to the painter Angelos.
- "Deisis (Obsecration)", portable icon of the 15th century from the church of the Taxiarches at Geraki.
- "Christ Pantocrator", portable icon of the 15th century from Gouves at Pediada.
- "The Adoration of the Magi", portable icon of the 16th century, painted by Michael Damaskenos.
- "Theotokos the Vatos", portable icon of the 16th century, painted by Michael Damaskenos.
- "The Last Supper", portable icon of the 16th century, painted by Michael Damaskenos.
- "Holy Liturgy", portable icon of the 16th century, painted by Michael Damaskenos.
- "Icons of the Dodekaorton", from the iconostasis of the Monastery of Kera Kardiotissa at Pediada. 17th century.