Through the pages of the book "The Monastery of the Theotokos Kykkotissa." Nicosia: «Yianel», 2006 - 116 with.
The architectural ensemble of the monastery Kykkos
Among the mighty giant pines that cover the slopes of the Troodos Mountains, the monastic complex named in the world of Kykkos, the full name of which is the Holy Imperial Stavropigial Monastery of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Kikk, stands majestically. Within its walls from the first days of its foundation the most ancient miraculous icon of the Mother of God is kept, created, according to legend, even under the earthly life of the Virgin and at Her request by the Apostle Luke. In the eleventh century, the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus presented this unique icon to Cyprus and allocated large funds from his treasury for the erection of the monastery, and therefore Tsarsky is calling him. And when the construction of the ancient temple began, the Holy Cross was laid in its foundation under the cornerstone, which in the language of the Church meant - a monastery stavropegial or cross-worshiped. At the same time, the holy monastery received all the stauropegic privileges - complete self-government and independence.
In the archives of the monastery is an ancient legend tells in detail about the history of the creation Kykkotissa holy abode.
Arcade gallery top court
Once, hunting in the forests of Marafas, the governor of the Byzantine emperor in Cyprus, Duke Manuel Vutomitis lost his way. For a long time he wandered among thick thickets and unexpectedly came across the small, hidden from the human eyes cave of a solitary hermit Isaiah and began to question him about the road. The old man did not answer, the faithful vow to remain silent and avoid contact with worldly people. The enraged governor ordered his guards to severely punish the silent. A humble monk, who chose life in the desert as a "place of battle with spirits in the skies," made an unjust punishment. Vutomitis, after getting out of the woods, soon forgot about the incident. And suddenly a serious illness chained the angry duke to the bed. The best healers of the empire could not help him. And then the governor, exhausted by the disease, remembering his evil deed in the mountains, ordered to find a hermit in order to obey him. The elder, having forgiven Vutomitis, began day and night praying for his recovery. The governor quickly recovered, the terrible disease receded, and the governor promised the hermit to fulfill any of his wishes. The request of Isaiah to bring to Cyprus the miraculous icon of the Blessed Virgin from the palace temple of the Byzantine emperor led the duke into confusion. After much hesitation, he nevertheless went to Constantinople to represent the hermit at court. The possibility did not take long to wait, the only daughter of the emperor fell ill. The symptoms were the same as those of a newly diagnosed vicar. The emperor, having learned about who saved the life of the duke, invited Isaiah to the palace, promising him untold riches for saving his daughter. And again the Guardian of God prayed, and again a miracle happened. The happy ruler offered everything, but the humble monk kept repeating only the miraculous icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. The monarch was angry: he really did not want to part with the sacred relic. However, later events again forced him to resort to the help of a hermit, and only then did he agree to give the icon to Isaiah.
The main temple of the holy abode
The Imperial ship slowly sailed to the coast of Cyprus. Residents of the island greeted with joy the miraculous icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Most Merciful, and went with her to the place where high places in the mountains were intended to lay the monastery. There was this event in the beginning of the XI century, at the same time the erection of the holy abode began with funds allocated from the tsarist treasury. The main shrine of the monastery - the miraculous image of the Mother of God of the Kikks Eleusa (Gracious) - was installed in the iconostasis of the main church to the left of the Royal Gates. By the decree of the emperor, the icon was covered with a velvet veil so that no one could ever see the holy faces of the Virgin and her Divine Son. In the whole history there are only two cases of violation of this prohibition. In 1669, the Patriarch of Alexandria Gerasim, yielding to temptation, lifted the cover of the holy icon and immediately went blind. Long and repentantly praying at the image of the Mother of God, he received forgiveness and healing. History preserved for descendants his written will: never violate the sacred law. To the right of the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos you can see the black cast of the hand of a man who dared to touch the holy faces with his thoughts.
During its long, centuries-old life, the holy abode was blazed four times in flames. And never the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was harmed. In 1365, during the raging fire, the greatest miracle happened, which was described in his book by the famous Greek enlightener Ephraim of Athens. After the morning meal, all the monks went to the forest for brushwood. In the mountains, they met a local resident who planted a bonfire in the forest to smoke bees out of the hives. Suddenly a strong wind blew and, taking up the fire, carried it towards the monastery. And now the flame licks the walls of the temple and sneaks inside, where only one paralyzed old man prays at the holy icon. Noticing the fiery tongues, he was horrified and suddenly heard the words addressed to him: "Rise, take the icon and escape." Forgetting everything, the old man jumped up, took off the icon and, pressing it to his chest, rushed away from the flame-filled temple. Climbing the hill, he climbed easily to the tallest cedar. And then he realized the realization of a miracle. The monks, seeing the smoke, ran to the church, but the icon was nowhere to be found. And suddenly they noticed that the fire was now approaching the cedar standing alone, then abruptly moved away. Running to the tree, they noticed on top of a man with an icon in his hands. The joy was endless. The temple was rebuilt, and life in the holy monastery boiled again.
The iconostasis of the church. Mid XVIII century.
In the northern part of the complex behind a massive wooden door with casting inserts, conveying the subjects of the New Testament, is the front entrance to the real treasury of the monastery - the Church and Archaeological Museum, where the most valuable items of church art are collected. And although the museum was created relatively recently - in 1995 year, its collection is considered to be one of the best in Cyprus, because most of the exhibits resting today in the silence of halls and storages exist simultaneously in a cult and in a cultural context. About the former ties with the Byzantine Empire, where the idea of the monastery foundation was born, recalls the special atmosphere of the museum, the refined interior design, the color solution is the dominant violet background symbolizing spirituality, the warm shade of walnut inlaid with gold, muffled light and Byzantine musical accompaniment. For centuries, the monks collected this valuable collection in pieces, which was often replenished by pilgrims from Russia, sacrificing holy objects, church books, lamps, chandeliers and candlesticks, salaries and crosses decorating the cathedral church, sacristy and museum halls.
The covered arch portal in the eastern part of the monastery leads to a small but cozy lower courtyard where the main temple of the monastery stands. Initially, in the 11th century, it was wooden and one-nave with a steep pointed gable roof covered with a flat red tile, which corresponded to the already established local tradition. Later in 1541, the former wooden church was replaced with stone. The church began to take on a modern form by the middle of the 18th century, when its main nave was crowned with a dome, two side chapels were added and decorated with frescoes, which was mentioned in his diaries by the famous Russian traveler monk Vasily Grigorovich-Barsky. The architectural appearance of today's church is a dome basilica, where rows of slender columns supporting pointed arches divide the inner space into three aisles. The central nave with a semicircular apse is dedicated to the Theotokos, the southern one to All Saints, the northern one to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Three portals, framed by semicircular arches and gilded wall mosaics, lead to the temple.
The central hall of the Church and Archeological Museum
In the rich decoration of the temple, everything is impressive. Floor mosaic, which was created using a complex Florentine method of seamless adjustment of stone plates. A majestic carved iconostasis dating from 1755 year, with ancient icons of the 16th - 19th centuries, among which the main treasure of the monastery is the icon of the Mother of God Eleusa in a gilded lace frame. Openwork chair, rare subjects of wall paintings and shining lights of chandeliers. An integral part of the cathedral church remains a high pulpit, which in Greek means "climbing". He marks those elevated places from which Jesus preached, as well as His ascension to the peak of the feat in the name of the salvation of mankind. The ancient tracery pulpit resembles an elegant, gleaming golden cup decorated with the images of the four Evangelists and the figure of an eagle with outstretched wings symbolizing divine inspiration, spiritual strength and Resurrection. The interior is complemented by high wooden chairs, called "stasidi" in Greek. Seating seats have two positions: low and high, so that parishioners can either sit in the temple, or stand, leaning on the armrests and feeling more confident during prolonged services. For the first time stasids appeared in Greek temples and temples of Mount Athos.
The interior of the church is completed by a majestic iconostasis, which, according to Byzantine tradition, remained three-tiered, preserving the local, festive and apostolic ranks. An impressive fresco is depicted in the altar space (beme) in the apse of the apse, on it is the image of the Virgin - the Queen of Heaven, seated on the throne with the crowned blessing Christ, with an adult face, long hair, in royal attire, and surrounded by angelic triads. The artistic style of the fresco, based on large forms, bright colors, with an abundance of red, gold and blue, fine artwork, gives it a special pathos and optimism.
Architectural appearance of the temple complements the elegant bell tower. Erected it at the end of the XIX century. The largest bell (weight 1280 kg) was donated to the monastery of tsarist Russia, as inscription reads: "Abode of the Mother of God, called Kykkotissa, on the island of Cyprus diligence and zeal Russian Orthodox residents of Moscow Ekaterina Abramova, cast factory Bogdanov." At the end of XX century, just west of the monastery complex erected a new majestic bell tower topped with a cross, hovering over the tops of pine trees as symbols of secular celebrations of the Orthodox faith.
Monastery of St. Procopius. Compound Kykkos. Administrative center
The sacred subjects of large mosaic canvases covering almost all the walls of bypass galleries are unique not only with their iconographic Byzantine canons, but also with the revived beauty of the smalt mosaic that was widespread in the Byzantine Empire. The technical capabilities of the forgotten mosaic allowed contemporary artists to achieve a special light effect, revealing, as it were, the unique properties of the "vibrating surface". The carved wooden door of the cell of the abbot of the monastery, executed in the XVI, preserved in its ancient appearance the artistic merits of fine openwork carving, the symbolic sounding of images and the high skill of its creator. The hand of the master craftsman imprinted on it numerous fragments of vegetable ornamentation, based on the curls of the acanthus. Organic in it are inscribed and palm leaves, embodying the triumph of Christ, and a spiral composition associated with the motif of the World Tree. A special meaning is filled with images of animals: a winged dragon, signifying wisdom and the ancient origin of the church, and a sleeping lion, believed to be open-eyed, who today still vigilantly protects the chambers of the abbot of the monastery.
On the territory of the legendary monastery are located guest buildings for pilgrims, where at any time of the year you can find shelter and feel the cordiality and hospitality of the humble monks of this amazing monastery. It is especially crowded here at the Virgin Feasts, when the Monastery celebrates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin with special solemnity. Not far from the monastery on the top of the Tron mountain stands a stone chapel with a mosaic image of the Kikkian Mother of God. Nearby is a majestic monument and the tomb of the first president of Cyprus - His Beatitude Archbishop Makarios III. On the marble slab the words: "From this mountain I will see my country and my people, which I loved so much."