Today: March 18 2019
russian English greek latvian French German Chinese (Simplified) Arabic hebrew

All that you will be interested in knowing about Cyprus on our website
the most informative resource about Cyprus in runet

Makarios - "the banner of Cyprus"

National hero

3 August 1977 year ceased to beat the heart of one of the most amazing politicians of the twentieth century, and world history in general - the Blessed Archbishop of New Justinian and the whole of Cyprus Makarios III.

Is it legitimate to use the word "politician" in relation to an Orthodox hierarch who is the presiding father of one of the most ancient Local Orthodox Churches? In this case - no doubt.

The truth that was revealed to me when I first set foot on Cyprus land was stunned at first. Archbishop Makarii headed not only the Local Church. He was the first popularly elected president of the free Republic of Cyprus. The first president of the state, which without him could not arise at all. Furthermore. He was ethnarch - head of the people.

The roots of this specifically Cypriot phenomenon, as well as those of the interethnic problems that Makarios had to deal with as a policy, go back to the sixteenth century. In 1571, the Ottoman Turks repulsed the island, which was home to about 85 thousand Christians, from the Venetians. To control the indigenous population, new rulers proclaimed the head of the Cyprus Church the head of the Orthodox "millet". This term in Muslim states was the community of people united by one faith and living within the boundaries of a certain territory. Since millet is formed on a religious basis, it is the religious leader who should lead such a community - the "local population".

Thus, the archbishop of Cyprus was, as it were, representative of the Turkish authorities: he was responsible to the sultan for all the internal affairs of the island, including for collecting taxes. Ottomans, in turn, began to populate the island by people from Asia Minor. First, the Turkish garrison, then the Muslim population and Turkish villages appeared in Cyprus. For many years, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots lived in peace, but in the middle of the twentieth century, the balance was violated by rude interference from outside. Cyprus became one of the figures on the great chessboard.

Against the backdrop of disturbing our society of discussions about the boundaries of interaction between the state and the Church, the fact that in the twentieth century the Orthodox bishop could simultaneously occupy the chair of the apostle Barnabas, and the post of head of the secular state, captures imagination and gives abundant food for thought.

From this moment, although in his native textbooks and the church press, in particular in the "Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate" he was called Makarii, I will refer to the hero of our history as Makarios - he is honored in Cyprus under this name, just so he is known to the whole world .

President Makarios for the history of the twentieth century is a legendary figure. Everything is striking in it: the way of life, purposefulness, political foresight. Born into a poor peasant family, he ascended to the heights of power, while remaining very integral in nature, whose faith was manifested in every step of his life.

A detailed story about the life of the first president of Cyprus abounds with such unexpected twists and turns, bright details, dramatic twists and turns that could form the basis of an action-dramatic film.

There is a feeling that a person of this scale could have been born only in a certain historical era. And as the time of the heroes of Hellas ended, so did the time of the giants of the spirit. As if the earth no longer gives rise to great leaders.

On the slopes of the Troodos Mountains

The history of the future president of Cyprus began in one of the small villages near the town of Paphos, bearing the beautiful name of Pano Panagia, or Panagia. Today it is easy to get to it by car. The picturesque road, looping, rises up and leads you past the ancient monasteries of Agia Moni and the Virgin of the Golden Garnet - Chrysorossiissa to the village, lying on the mountainside. From here, only 40 kilometers to Kykkos.

The streets here are so narrow that parking a car is a smart and ingenious task. During the childhood of Michalis Christodoulos Muscos - this name bore the archbishop of Cyprus until the adoption of monasticism - rural residents more than enough for the width of local roads. Cars here did not pass.

Michalis Muskos, born 13 August 1913, was the first-born in the poor peasant family of Christodoulos Haralambu Muskos and Eleni Anastasiou. House Muskosov now turned into a museum. The keys to it are stored in the historical and political center of the ethnarch Makarios, built on a small square in the center of the village.

Passing through a small courtyard inside the room, you are amazed at the modesty of the internal situation. The house has only two rooms, and the kitchen is outside, on the street. Ground floor, whitewashed walls, of furniture - bed and wardrobe. On the floor in the corner there is a hearth, on the walls there are simple objects of peasant life.

Little is known about the mother of Archbishop Makarios. She was a very pious woman and dreamed that her son would become a priest. Having given birth to two more children - her son and daughter, she died of pneumonia in 1924 year, when the boy was only 11 years old. The sad story of Eleni eloquently testifies to the level of medicine on the island in those years: neither in his native village, nor in the region, were there any doctors or medicines. Father was left alone with young children and soon married again - Michalis was able to get used to his stepmother and for the rest of his life kept warm affection for her. Soon in the life of the boy there was an event that determined his future destiny.


In Panaye there was only one school, and, as was the case, children of different ages were studying at the same time. Michalis stood out among his contemporaries with thoughtfulness and desire for books. He finished his studies with excellent grades. Care for the future of the boy made his father think about further study.

The best education in Cyprus could be given only by the monastic school.

In 1926, the father took the boy to the Kikk monastery. Hegumen immediately drew attention to the good abilities of the new student. From now on, his name was Michalis Kikkotis.

Kykkos is the center of the spiritual and monastic life of Cyprus. It is very ancient, the most famous and rich of the monasteries of the island. The monastery had a lot of farmsteads both in Cyprus and outside it. But the main treasure of the monastery, of course, is the miraculous icon of the Mother of God, brought here from Constantinople.

At the end of the monastic school, from 1933 to 1936, Michalis studied at the All-Cyprus Gymnasium in Nicosia. Then she was the only higher educational institution on the island. Returning to Kykkos, he headed the monastery school, then became secretary of the council of the Kikk monastery.

In 1938, Metropolitan Pafsky Leontius ordained Michalis Kikkotis to the rank of deacon. Michalis changed his name again. Henceforth he was called Makarios.

The Council of the Kikk Monastery decided to send Makarios to continue his studies at the Theological School of the University of Athens. Makarios left Cyprus in 1938 year.

In Athens, he immersed himself in his studies. But in 1940, Greece was struck by the blow of fascist Germany. Makarios, being a British citizen, made an attempt to sail to Cyprus, but was late on the ship. So the Lord saved him from certain death: the ship was attacked by aircraft and sunk with all passengers.

Makarios experienced all the hardships of life in occupied Athens. During this time, in addition to basic education, he graduated from law school and in 1946 year he was ordained as priest by Metropolitan Panteleimon of Argirocastron. In the same year, thanks to a scholarship from the World Council of Churches, he began his studies at Boston University. Two years later, in 1948, Makarios was elected in absentia by Metropolitan Kithium. It's time to return home.


In Cyprus, Makarios is actively involved in public activities: he establishes a number of youth organizations, builds, opens a cassette for help to clergy, speaks to the people, meets with politicians from different countries. With his active assistance begins the publication of the journal "Hellenistic Cyprus", develops education.

The main aspiration of all Greek Cypriots in the middle of the 20th century was "Enosis" - reunification with Greece as the center of the Greek world. In 1950, Cyprus had two ways: to remain a colony of Britain or to become part of Greece. For Makarios, as for all Greek Cypriots, the second was the only welcome decision.

In 1950, after the death of Archbishop Makarios II, Metropolitan Kithium was unanimously elected Archbishop of New Justinian and the whole of Cyprus. Makarios III became head of the Cyprus Orthodox Church.

Note that the titulature of the church hierarchy in Cyprus is somewhat different from what we are accustomed to. In the Cyprus Orthodox Church, only one person bears the title of archbishop - her primate. Territorially the same and administratively, Cyprus is divided into metropolitans, headed by metropolitans.

In 1940-1950-ies the Greek Cypriots unsuccessfully negotiated with the colonial authorities on a wide range of issues: from political to economic. The intransigence of the English increasingly heated the situation. Peaceful and benevolent Cypriots faced a very difficult choice.

About how the smoldering coals turned into a fire that swept away on its way both the British and Cypriots, eloquently told L. Darell in the book "Bitter lemons." In those years he himself lived in Cyprus, and his story is an eyewitness account.

Cyprus launched an armed struggle for independence. At the head of the underground army, known as the EOCA (EOCA) - the National Organization of Cypriot wrestlers, Colonel George Grivas rose. The bet was made on terrorist methods of struggle. Alas, the diplomatic means were exhausted.

The beginning of the liberation actions no longer depended on the decision of Archbishop Makarios. This decision was made by the people themselves. In the eyes of the Greek Cypriots, Archbishop Makarios and George Grivas both became national heroes. In the history of the country they entered as "flag and sword of Cyprus".

EOCA inflicted its first blows in 1955 year. Archbishop Makarios also tried to negotiate with the British. However, having suspected the archbishop in connection with the liberation movement, the authorities already in 1956 year deported him from Cyprus to the Seychelles. In his absence, Grivas and EOKA only intensified their actions. In 1957, Archbishop Makarios was released from exile, but he returned to his homeland only in 1959, after he signed the Zurich-London agreements. In the same year, at the first presidential election, Archbishop Makarios was elected by the majority of votes as President of the Republic of Cyprus.

However, the clouds over the island only thickened. The policy of external interference in the internal affairs of Cyprus has given rise to an ever-growing confrontation between the Greek and Turkish communities of the island. In 1963-1964 years it turned into armed clashes, but Archbishop Makarios managed to keep the country from disintegration.

Meanwhile, in the political circles of Greece, discontent with the course that took Makarios ripened. The zealous adherents of Enosis with Greece believed that the Archbishop was departing from their ideals.

On the life of Makarios, several attempts were made, and each time he was saved by a miracle. It should be noted that he met every danger face to face, never changing the route, even if he was informed of the threat.

Once the helicopter, on which the president flew, was fired in the air. The wounded pilot hardly planted the car. Getting out of the cab, Makarios stopped the passing car and brought the pilot to the hospital.

In addition to the enemies of Makarios, former confederates also confronted.

In 1972, three metropolitans opposed the archbishop. The Holy Synod of the Cypriot Church put forward the demand for the resignation of Makarios from the post of president.

It is noteworthy that at that moment the voice of support was also heard from the Soviet Union - from the lips of His Holiness Patriarch Pimen.

The friendly ties between the two Local Churches have been established for a long time. In 1971, President Makarios visited the USSR and took part in celebrations on the occasion of the enthronement of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1974, the most dramatic events took place in the modern history of Cyprus. There was a military coup. The National Guard, which launched the putsch, attacked the Presidential Palace. Makariosu (again a miracle) managed to escape, although he was already declared dead. The president had to leave the country, and soon, in response to Greece's intervention in the situation in Cyprus, Turkey introduced troops to the island. The northern part of Cyprus was occupied and remains so until now.

A few months later, Makarios returned to his homeland to continue serving her until his death hour ...


You can read a lot between the lines of biography and official documents, you can look closely at portraits and photographs, but today, when we have access to those sources of information that were difficult to address earlier, a special feeling is caused by video recordings of Makarios's speeches, his sermons and interviews, speeches to the people .

Crowds of people chanting his name. The strong-willed figure of the archbishop, his strong voice and firm will.

The figure of a monk on the throne is an unusual lesson of power. Makarios had no other interests than the interests of his people. He did not have personal ambitions, he belonged entirely to Cyprus, the Church. And bitter share: he passed away shortly after the tragic events that split the island in half.

In the twenty-first century, not all clearly assess the role of President Makarios in what happened to the island. Unequivocal assessments where it comes to the political interests of the whole world are simply impossible.

For several decades of the rule of Makarios, Cyprus went through many trials. Terrorism, civil war, ethnic strife, occupation - the island did not pass over any of the most difficult problems of our time. What would be an island without Makarios - no longer know, because history knows no subjunctive mood.

Today, Cyprus, divided, mindful of the loss, is once again experiencing difficult times. Most recently, because of the explosion at the military base of Evangelos Floraakis, the most powerful power station in Cyprus, Vasiliko, was destroyed. The issue of the occupied territories of Northern Cyprus remains unresolved.

But for Russian people, Cyprus will always be a warm, joyful island. Here, on the shores of the Mediterranean, tourists from Russia travel with pleasure. Here, under the arches of ancient monasteries, to the shrines of the Cyprus Orthodox Church, pilgrims come every year. Few of them think about how the Cypriot people achieved their independence, few people are able to discern in the quiet local residents the flaming youth of 1950-1960.

Let my story tell you a few more pages of the uneasy history of this blessed island.

3 August, in the famous Kikk monastery, on the tops of Troodos traditionally will be a funeral service in memory of the great Makarios. People will come to his grave at the top of the Tron mountain again, bring flowers, honor his memory with prayer.

On other days on the top of the Throne there is silence, only the wind shakes the branches of the trees.

The place of the last resting of Archbishop Makarios is majestic: a wide square, a monumental sculpture of the President. Recently it was moved from Nicosia, which caused some controversy in the society.

A wide road leads to the grave of Makarios, adorned on both sides by numerous mosaics of saints. Two of these mosaics are noteworthy. They depict St. Sergius of Radonezh and Seraphim of Sarov, and the inscriptions on these images, unlike all the others, are made in Russian.

All this is simply amazing on its own scale. All this is proportionate to the greatness of the president, but not to human perception. Only a modest grave in the grotto at the very top says that the President of Cyprus was the same mortal man of flesh and blood as we are all. Great in spirit and destiny.

Then, in 1977, after the news of the death of the President of Cyprus for the funeral from Sheremetyevo, a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church flew out.

Archbishop (later Metropolitan) of Volokolamsk Pitirim wrote very touchingly about the farewell of the Cyprian people with their leader: "The mourning train stretched out in a long string. When the procession reached the Troodos mountain range, one could see from its steep slopes how the chain of sparkling cars in the sun, like an endless series of colorful beads, was lost somewhere far away in the blue, behind the far corners. On more than a hundred kilometers from Nicosia to the Kikk monastery, a mourning train was met by crowds of people, not only from neighboring villages, but also from faraway villages on large and small cars, motorcycles and bicycles. In the rush of excitement these people waited for a brief moment when a hearse with the remains of their great archpastor would pass by them. It seemed that the whole road was sobbing. Everywhere on the panels, right on the road and even on steep smooth slopes, there were inscriptions: "Makarii, you are alive!", "Makarii, you are the soul of the people!", "Makarii, we are with you!", "Your business lives in our hearts ! "The last way of the archbishop was decorated with the care of his people who love him: the road was strewn with flowers and fresh foliage. At the hour when the Archbishop's body was already approaching the Kikk monastery, gray clouds suddenly appeared on the horizon and rain spurted, and over the Nicosia at the same time a short storm of heavy rain swept past. No one remembers that there were rains in Cyprus in August. And in this unusual phenomenon of nature, the people felt a special sign of the blessing of God, as if the sky itself had divided the grief that had befallen Cyprus. "

Preparing for death, Archbishop Makarios himself chose a place for his rest. Here, on the top of the Throne, we recall his words: "From here I will see the whole of Cyprus."

G|translate Your license is inactive or expired, please subscribe again!