Melchizedek Despotakis, originating from Heraklion in Crete, became a monk at a young age and went to the the city of Iasi, Romania for higher education as an apprentice near the teacher Kleovoulos. In January 1818 he was ordained bishop of the diocese of Kisamos and Selino and successor of Ioannikios. Being brave and with a thriving national morale, he had been introduced into the Revolutionary Organisation called “Filiki Eteria” (Friendly Company) by Pangalos Varnavas. He became leader of the revolution of 1821. He had a brave and fearless character and, as a bishop, he repelled many unjust demands of the Turkish Janissaries.
Saint John the Stranger (Xenos), as we learn from his will, was born in the village of Makra Siva of the Pyriotissa Province in Messara, in 970, ten years after the liberation of Crete from the Saracens.
Crete has been under the occupation of many conquerors throughout history. For 133 years, from 828 until 961, the Arabs Saracens had transformed the island into a center of pirate raids in the Aegean. Many towns and villages were virtually destroyed and the Christians had a problem of survival, of course, those who had escaped the massacres and Islamization. So when Crete was liberated in 961 by Nicephorus Phocas, there was an urgent need to re-evangelization of the inhabitants.
The story of the 99 Holy Fathers tells that the 99 fathers came from Egypt, Cyprus and Turkey under the leadership of St. John to Azogires. St. John was born and grew up in Egypt. Along with 35 other pious men he went to Cyprus to live in asceticism. There they became known for their abilities to cure sicknesses. The stories of St. John and his men reached the other ascetics on the island, and 39 of these joined the group. After a while all of them went on to Attaleia (Antalya) in the present Turkey, where another 24 ascetics joined them.
The ascetic community, now consisting of 99 men, prayed to God to show them a place in which they would be able to live a secluded life. God told them to go to Crete, and so they sailed from Turkey towards Crete. Because of a violent storm they turned around to put into port on the island of Gavdos. When the storm had died down after 24 days, the ascetics set out again. But, according to tradition, when they were about to board the ship, God had made John invisible to their eyes, so by mistake they left without him. On their arrival in Crete the ascetics found that John was not among them. They realized that he must still be on Gavdos, and from the beach they called for him to come. On the island John heard their call. He said a prayer, threw his tunic into the water and sailed - standing on the tunic - to Crete in three hours.
Fr. Nikephoros (in the world, Nicholas) was born in a village of Chania, in Serikari. His parents were simple and pious villagers, who while he was still a small child, died and left him an orphan. Thus, at the age of thirteen he left his home, traveled to Chania and began to work in a barbershop. There he started to show the first signs of Hansen's disease (i.e. leprosy). At that time, lepers were exiled to the island of Spinaloga, because leprosy was a transmissible disease and was treated with fear and horror. Nicholas, when he was sixteen years old and when the signs of his disease began to be more visible, to flee from enclosure on Spinaloga fled with a boat for Egypt. There he remained working in Alexandria, again in a barbershop, however the signs of his disease became even more evident, especially on his hands and face. Due to the suggestions of a cleric he fled to Chios where there was a home for lepers, in which was a priest, Fr. Anthimos Vagianos, later St. Anthimos of Chios.
The martyrs of the faith, Emmanuel, Anezina and their children George and Mary were cryptochristians and had the following Turkish names: The father was called “Ivraim Ivni Avdoullach and his wife “Fatme Ivni Avdoullach”. The daughter was called “Chatizie” and the son “Mustafa." Also the father, Emmanuel, was 40 years old, while his wife Anezina was 38. The son, George, was 18 and the daughter, Mary, was 16.