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Cave Church of Cyprus: the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Sozomen Chrysospiliotissa

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


Cave Monastery of the Blessed Virgin in the village Chrysospiliotissa Deftera (a suburb of Nicosia)

The rapid spread of the new faith and the intensified persecution of its followers forced Christians to look for such hidden places that could save them from their pursuers. The first shelters for Christians were underground tombs. They served as their secret haven, a spacious temple and a burial place. However, the orderly knew the location of the catacomb tombs reliably, and staying in them was not always safe. Another sacred place is the cave. She and the dwelling, and the temple, and the sanctuary, and the childbearing place, and the grave. In the cave, Christ was born, Abraham Sarah was buried in the cave, and Abraham himself was buried in it, and Saint Lazarus, also resurrected by Jesus, rested in the cave. Leaving the worldly life with her passions and untruths, in the name of selfless service to God hermits and deserters retired far into the mountains, where they sought solitude and settled themselves into secluded dwellings that grew into large churches and monasteries.

St. Mary Church Chrysospiliotissa

In the village of Kato Deftera, near Nicosia, among the eucalyptus trees and oleander bushes in the steep cliffs that encircle the left bank of the Pedieos River, there is a unique church in the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Golden Cave (Chrysospiliotissa). According to tradition, the villagers often noticed a mysterious light in the mountains. Once, having mustered courage, they went in search of a mysterious fire and unexpectedly stumbled upon a cave cut in a rock, consisting of three small rooms connected by narrow curved corridors. Inside, they discovered an ancient two-sided icon that radiated marvelous light.
On one side of the icon was painted the face of the Most Holy Mother of God, breast-feeding Divine Child (a rare iconographic image called "Mammal"), on the other - the image of the Virgin Hodigitria ("Guide") with the blessing infant. In the XVIII century, the famous Cretan artist John Cornaro covered the icon with a silver gilded salary, on which the Holy Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven, seated on the throne and holding the youth of Christ, crowned with a crown, was kneeling. Today this miraculous icon is kept in the church of St. Nicholas in the village of Cato Deftera. And only once a year, when the great feast of the Assumption of the Theotokos is celebrated, it is solemnly brought to the cave monastery.



The interior of the cave temple Virgin Chrysospiliotissa

When and by whom this monastic shelter was carved in the rock, history is still silent. Discovered by scientists in the main room, two graves and a cross in one of them, suggest that this place was used by hermits as a small monastery. The largest cave was transformed into a church, whose walls still today retain fragments of frescoes dating from the 13th - 15th centuries. In the altar space you can distinguish the figures and faces of the Holy Fathers of the Church. Among them, the apostle Barnabas is the founder of the Cyprus Church, Bishop Epiphany of Cyprus is a participant in the first Ecumenical Council and a rare image of Saint Trifillios, Bishop of Ledra (Nicosia). Other murals - "Resurrection of Saint Lazarus" and "Transfiguration of the Lord" - today are on restoration.

According to popular legend, the Blessed Virgin Chrysospiliotissa helps man to find a faithful companion of life, preserves and strengthens the marriage bond. And here stretches stream of people to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary, and leaves in the cave monastery as a sign of love and gratitude, supplication and hope for a happy family life many attributes of a wedding celebration.

More recently strengthened the outer walls of the monastic hermitage, updated and ladder consisting of 104 steps leading to the entrance. In the year 1998 grateful parishioners decorated the miraculous source mosaic panel, which posted an image of the Blessed Virgin and Child and Life-giving source.

Cave monastery of St. Sozomen


Cloister of St. Sozomen in the eponymous village near Nicosia / Fresco Reverend Paul of Thebes. X century. Cave monastery of St. Sozomen

Ancient cave of the recluse of Sozomen, carved at the dawn of Christianity in a steep rock and restored in the XIV century as a chapel, is next to the ruins of an ancient village of the same name, near the village of Dali in the suburbs of Nicosia. The first mention of the saint is found in the medieval Cypriot chronicler Leontius Maher. His Chronicles tells how a group of Christians, including St. Sozomen, after invading the territory of the Promised Land was forced to leave his country and seek refuge in the lands of Cyprus. Hagiographers of many centuries never came to a common opinion about the personality of Sozomen. But historical facts confirm that the image of the holy hermit is real, and its first images appeared in the churches of Cyprus. His secluded monastery is really on the island, and it was already in the 10th century, as archaeologists have proved, served as a chapel. Its walls are still adorned with paintings, most of which are preserved in the internal apse and around the massive tomb. A fragment of one of the frescoes, dating from the 10th century, where a group of hermits is written, is on display in one of the halls of the Byzantine Museum in Nicosia.

On the west wall of the secret chamber of the figure of the Reverend Paul of Thebes. His image, with a long beard, eagle eyes, billowing tunic reflected idyllic version murals Palaeologus dynasty. Part vaulted ceiling stories about the righteous life and miracles performed Sozomen saints whose memory store multiple icons and murals ancient basilicas and vaulted churches of the Troodos.

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