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Catacomb churches of Cyprus: the Holy and the Holy Heracleides Solomonia

Through the pages of the book "Church of Cyprus." Nicosia: «Yianel», 2012 - 196 with.

Cyprus, located at the intersection of trade routes from Rome and Palestine, Syria and Egypt, Antioch and Lebanon, from the first days of the new religion of origin was involved in the thick of things. And today, scattered throughout the island tracks a variety of beliefs and gods, settlement and reconciliation, the collapse of paganism and the triumph of Orthodoxy. There remain numerous and catacomb cave churches, secluded dwelling hermit, with walls decorated by its pristine beauty of ancient frescoes.

Catacomb of St. abode Heracleides

Secret abode of the Holy Heracleides. Eponymous monastery in the village of Politico (Nicosia District).

This secret abode appeared on the island in the first century. According to the legend, when the apostles Paul, Barnabas and Mark arrived in Cyprus for the first time with a preaching mission, in the village of Lampadistu, where the saint Iraklidis was born, they asked the local pagan priest to show them the way to Paphos. With the permission of his father to accompany the apostles, Iraklidis set out on this difficult road. During a long journey together, the apostle Barnabas read the young Irakleidis and baptized him in the river Solion near the village of Kalopanayotis. Returning back, in the catacombs of the ancient city-state of Tamasos, holy Irakleidis was ordained by the apostles Paul and Barnabas as the first bishop of Cyprus. Later on that place was built an ancient basilica and monastery, consecrated by his name, existing to this day. Today this catacomb monastery, where the wonderworker Iraklidis performed divine services, and later his body was buried in it, is located on the territory of the monastery complex, which is located on the outskirts of the village of Politiko, located in the vicinity of Nicosia. You can get to the underground monastery from the side of the guest house, going down the steep steps, or through the secret hiding place, hidden under the ancient basilica of the monastery.

Catacombs of St. Solomoni Maccabee

(Left) The Catacombs of St. Solomoni Maccabee - Martyr Christian period. Paphos.
(Right) Icon of St. Solomonia with scenes of the martyrdom of her seven sons of the Maccabees. Domed basilica of St. Kyriaki. XV century. The iconostasis of the northern nave. Pathos

They are located on the main road leading to the seaport of the city of Paphos. The underground church received its name after the name of Saint Solomon - martyrs of the pre-Christian period. Holy Solomonius and her seven sons, along with their spiritual mentor Elizar suffered in 166 year before the birth of Christ from the cruel Syrian king, persistently planted in Judea pagan customs. The adherence of the seven Maccabees to the law of Moses, their faith in the coming coming of the Savior of the world and the refusal to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods have infuriated the wicked king, who ordered the children to be subjected to terrible torture and execution in the presence of the mother. A brave mother died of mental anguish, refusing to persuade her sons to renounce faith and God.

The catacombs of Saint Solomonia unite several underground rooms located around an open courtyard. In their architecture they resemble ancient Hellenistic tombs, which at the dawn of Christianity saved the first Christians from persecution of pagans. It was then that the largest cave with an arched entrance and was converted into a church, the walls of which were later decorated with paintings. Today, on the altar wall, one can distinguish between the images of the Virgin and the Child, of the Church Fathers in the sacred felony, fragments of two deacons and the holy cross in the altar. The manner of painting, according to experts, is typical for the style of the XII century. Fragments of frescoes on the northern and southern wall of the underground nave of the catacomb church date from the 14th century.

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