Kikk monastery always played a special role in the historical fate of Cyprus, sharing the fate of the people, who during difficult periods of his life the brethren tried to inspire, direct to the right path and protect. That's why the Kikk monastery, the most famous Cypriot monastery, means so much to the Cypriots.
The full name of the monastery is as follows: the sacred royal and stauropegic monastery of the Kikk Icon of the Mother of God. Tsarskim it is called because it was based on personal donations of the Byzantine emperor Alexei Comnin (1081-1118); stauropegic - because a stone was placed on the stone, and in the administrative language of the Church it means that the monastery is self-governing, of course, within the framework of the Cyprus Orthodox Church. The origin of the name "Kikksky" is unknown. According to a common point of view, it goes back to the name of a wild shrub that grows in a given locality, also called coccus. Tradition connects the name "Kikk" with the singing of a certain bird, which in Byzantine times flew around the surrounding mountains and prefigured the foundation of the monastery with such verses: "In Kikk, Kikk mountain there will be a monastery / The Golden Lady will enter it and never come out."
So it actually happened, because in the monastery, which was built on the Kikk Mountains, from the end of the century there is a miraculous icon of the Mother of God of Kikk.
The monastery is in the western part of the Troodos mountain range at a distance of only 18 km from the highest mountain peak of Cyprus - Olympus. It is built at an altitude of about 1200 m above sea level, amid lush vegetation - shrubs and trees. As you can see, the location of the monastery is very convenient in order to indulge in a prayer feat without distractions.
The monastery has existed for already 900 years, while his brothers devoted themselves not only to monastic activities. The works of the inhabitants of the monastery were directed to strengthen the national self-consciousness of the Cypriots; led a monastery and a large charitable work. Thanks to all this, the Kikk monastery was rightfully considered one of the most important spiritual centers of the island. She always stood guard over the historical memory and the Orthodox consciousness of the Cypriots, who had to endure many difficult trials, including long-term enslavement by foreign invaders, which threatened the complete disappearance of the Cypriots as a people.
As narration tells, one day - it was about 1100 year - the Byzantine governor of Cyprus Archon Manuel Vutomitis went hunting, but lost his way. He wandered for a long time in the impenetrable forests of Troodos, inhabited by rare animals and birds. Finally, he met a hermit named Isaiah, but the proud archon treated him rudely, and the ascetic who avoided all things of the world did not talk to the nobleman. With difficulty, Vutomitis found his way to Nicosia. Soon the archon fell seriously ill. Deciding that the disease was sent to him for punishment because he was rude to the ascetic of God, the archon sent servants to seek out Isaiah. The old man was brought to the governor, and Vutomitis with humility asked to forgive him. Without a reply, the monk began to pray for the healing of the sufferer. Feeling that the disease has receded according to the prayers of the elder, Vutomitis promised Isaiah to give everything that he asks for. However, the saint did not want any money or titles, but, following the divine command, asked Vutomitis to bring him from Constantinople the icon of the Mother of God - one of those three that the evangelist Luke wrote. The ruler hesitated, for he was not sure that he could persuade the Byzantine emperor, Alexei Komnin, to cede the holy image that was kept in the palace. However, Vutomitis went to Constantinople, taking with him and the elder Isaiah.
They found the Emperor in great sorrow, because his only daughter was seriously ill with the same illness that had previously struck Vutomitis. When the archon and monk who appeared before Alexei Komnin learned about this, the elder began to pray fervently to the Lord. His prayer was heard, and the imperial daughter was completely healed. The guests told the emperor that, according to God's will, they must transfer the holy icon to the Troodos Mountains. It was difficult for Alexei Komnin to part with a precious shrine. Only when he himself was stricken with the same illness, he realized: God wants him to give the icon. The emperor gave and the means necessary for the construction of the monastery for the image. Isaiah with great joy transferred the icon to Cyprus. Here the people with special excitement and reverence met the icon of the Mother of God, and then solemnly conducted it to the Troodos Mountains. Trees that met in the procession marched low, and from the sea the shells miraculously emerged and followed the procession. Even today, in the forest areas of Tilliria, you can meet inclined pines and see the sea shells - these witnesses of the amazing participation of nature in the meeting that Cyprus prepared for the icon of the Mother of God. At the same time, Vutomitis returned to the island and handed Isaiah the imperial charter, which declared the monastery a stauropegic monastery, and defined for his maintenance the villages of Peristerona, Milos and Milicouri.
The earliest mention of the Kikk monastery is found in the 1136 manuscript: it refers to the purchase of a certain book by the hegumen of the monastery at that time by Daniel. Other information about both the first years of the monastery's existence and the entire Byzantine period of its history date back to the texts of the later period. Despite their indirect nature, these evidences convince us that the monastery had a significant influence on the then spiritual life of the island. A convincing proof of this can serve as icons, written in the manner of the Kikkian image of the Mother of God, which have survived to our time in Sinai and in Southern Italy.
Under the Latins, the Cypriot people did not abandon their fervent love for the Kikkian image of the Mother of God. It is mentioned even in the Venetian documents with the name "Holy Mary of the Rain" - a fact that indicates the wide popularity of the icon from non-Orthodox conquerors. The glory and influence of the Kikk monastery was so great that after the 1365 fire, the Catholic King Peter (1359-1369) expressed his readiness to restore the monastery, wishing to express this benevolence to his subjects. But his wife Eleanor begged him to allow her to allocate funds for the restoration of the monastery.
During the period of Latin domination, thanks to the manuscripts created in the monastery, the Orthodox traditions and the Greek language were preserved and continued, the living historical memory of the Cypriot people remained. In the monastery there was a workshop for correspondence and decoration of manuscripts, which continued Byzantine traditions. In the patriarchal library of Jerusalem, a handwritten Psalter is kept, which came from the scriptorium of the Kikk monastery, convincingly demonstrating the highest skill of Cypriot monks. Although due to historical and a number of other reasons, many texts of that era are lost, but through the lists of the Kikk Icon of the Mother of God, which were made in the XIII-XV centuries and preserved in Cyprus and elsewhere, their spiritual influence is felt. This is the icon of the temple of the Mother of God of Kivota (XIII c.), That in the community of St. Theodore in Agra, the icon of the church of Saint Marina (XV century) in the village of Kalopanayotis, now stored in the museum of Byzantine antiquities under the Archbishop Makary III, and the icon of the temple of Our Lady of Dexia (XV century) in Thessaloniki.
The gloomy period of Turkish rule became a serious test for Cypriot Hellenism. A gentile conqueror brought with him a culture completely alien to the Cypriots, another religion, which they tried to impose on them with all their might.
To achieve these goals, a large military contingent was stationed in Cyprus, Muslim communities were established. Relying on the ideology of Islam, the Ottoman Empire believed that it had the right to cruelly exploit the conquered peoples, thereby staying in a state of spiritual impoverishment and the constant danger of physical destruction.
Under the new conditions, the only organized power and hope of the people remained the Church, which defended it, strengthened and directed it. The Kikk monastery made a huge contribution to this struggle. During the period of Turkish rule, when religious faith also meant nationality, the monastery maintained a religious consciousness that was a breakaway against Islamization, which ultimately led to complete Turkification. Thousands of refugees, disregarding the difficulties of the road and many other dangers, went to the monastery for days and weeks to pray, ask for help from the holy icon and at the same time draw courage and patience to withstand the woes of slavery.
As a refuge for Christians there were also monasteries of the monasteries scattered all over Cyprus, the main of which were: Arkhangelsk in Lakatamia, St. Procopius in Ergomi, Xyropotamsk in Pandagi and Sinti in Paphos.
But this was not the only way the Kikk monastery resisted co-religion. In its walls, art, icon painting, woodcarving developed, traditions of Greek education continued and multiplied. Evidence for this is codes, musical manuscripts, shrines and numerous documents kept in the Kikk monastery itself and elsewhere in Cyprus, as well as in private collections, museums, libraries and archives of other countries. It is also difficult to overestimate the importance of the Greek school that operated in the monastery since the 18th century, albeit in some way imperfect from today's point of view. It was taught by the teacher of the nation Ephraim the Athenian, and the disciples were not only the novices of the monastery. After graduating from school, young people returned to their homeland and there - or in a sacred rank, or as teachers - distributed their knowledge. The school of the Kikk monastery later developed into a three-grade Greek gymnasium. Many of her students continued their studies at the theological faculties in Athens, Halki, the School of the Holy Cross in Brooklyn, Jerusalem. Their subsequent spiritual activity is another contribution of the monastery.
The long liberation struggle of the Cypriot people culminated in the founding of the independent state of the Republic of Cyprus (1960), which faced many more challenges. The Turkish invasion of 1974 year led to tragic consequences: the occupation of 40% of the island's territory, the forced expulsion of a third of the population and 1619 missing.
In the years of independence, the Church continued to play a leading role in the political and social events of the country. The traditions of the Kikk monastery were not interrupted. The monastery was on the front line of struggle for national justice, democracy and spiritual prosperity. He developed a multifaceted activity and again was close to the people, helping him in many needs. From the very beginning, the monastery allocated a significant amount of its revenues for the establishment of schools, such as the once famous Kikk Men's Gymnasium (1961) and the Kikk Women's Gymnasium (1964), now 1 and 2 Kikk lyceums, respectively. For the totality of the spiritual contribution, the monastery of the Kikk Icon of the Mother of God was awarded in 1974 the special award of the Athenian Academy of Sciences.
The monastery rendered significant help to those residents who were pursued by the Turkish troops and who in 1974 year sought refuge in the Kikk mountains. The monastery opened the doors and took thousands of refugees, giving them shelter, comfort and strength. At the same time, the monastery transferred large sums to the relevant state funds, from where funds were sent to help refugees. Expropriated schools and spiritual centers, such as the Morphos Agricultural Gymnasium, which had been housed for many years within the walls of the theological seminary, were located in the monastery grounds. The monastery sent financial assistance for defense purposes, for improving the life of soldiers, for building barracks for the national guard.
To date, in the monastery, twenty monks and two novices are working. The abbot of the monastery from 1984 is the bishop (now Metropolitan of Kikk and Tilliri), Nikifor, who is at the head of the work of the brethren to preserve the traditions of faithful service to the values and ideals of Hellenism and the Orthodox heritage of the island.
Nowadays, the monastery continues its multilateral activities, including in the social sphere, contributing to the assertion of the spiritual values of the people and at the same time reviving the historical and culture of its memory. The monastery donated large areas for the construction of schools, donated land to municipalities for setting up cultural centers, financed entire laboratories for those who needed them, such as special schools for difficultly adapted children. He financed the cost of erecting additional school facilities, such as the assembly hall of the Kikk lyceum in Paphos; he created computer centers in various educational institutions, such as the Pedagogical Institute, 1-th Kikk Lyceum and many others.
The ensemble of the monastery consists of many diverse architectural elements, as it was formed depending on the needs, conditions and financial possibilities of each epoch. The basis of the ensemble is the temple and various buildings around it, such as the hegumen corps, the assembly hall, monastic cells, the library, the museum, the reception halls, the economic department and others. In the center is a paved courtyard with a source.
Today, the monastery premises are mostly restored and decorated with images on various church subjects. For the most part it is a mosaic that adorns the entrance, the walls of the courtyard and the corridors, harmoniously fitting into the architectural features of the place.
Feast day of the monastery of the Kikk Icon of the Mother of God - 8 September - Nativity of the Virgin, although in the monastery solemnly celebrated all the Virgin holidays. On the holiday of the ancient monastery thousands of pilgrims flock here. Most of them settle in new guest buildings, which recently were built along with other buildings near the monastery complex in order to make it more convenient to make the residence of pilgrims and other visitors, who in a lot throughout the year come to the monastery.
In the vicinity are also monastery buildings, such as the church of St. Basil the Great, the church of St. Andrew the First-Called and ambelikha with rose bushes, from which produce fragrant pink water.
The monastery, apparently, was not built according to a single plan. It was built in several receptions in accordance with the requirements of the natural landscape.
Today it looks like this: two stone paved courtyards, located on different levels, with two entrances, surround the corps of cells. At the lower level, the courtyard from the north is bounded by the main monastic church (kafolikon), in the south - by the middle hull, from the east by a two-story building where the eastern entrance to the monastery, the so-called "Kato kamara", and from the west - a pond turned into a museum.
At the upper level, where the central entrance to the monastery is located, the courtyard is bounded from the north by the middle hull, and from the south, east and west by other appropriate hulls. Vaults form porticos in front of the facades of buildings around the yard.
On the first floor of the southern building there are cells, on the second - a monastery library. In the western building there are cells, a large assembly hall and a small chapel in the name of St. Harlampy. The average four-story building consists of cells and warehouses. In the eastern part there are a refectory, a kitchen and other rooms. In the eastern building next to the catholicon - on the first floor of the cell, and on the second floor - hegumen chambers. Both are richly decorated with wooden carvings. The monastery is built of local untreated stone. The monastic constructions are blocked with stones made of stones, with a new gable roof made of concrete tiles.
The temple was built specifically to store the holy image. Originally it was wooden, like all monastery buildings. The wooden structures were an easy prey for fires, which in 1365 and around 1541 caused the monastery serious damage. At the same time, the magnificent frescoes that adorn her were also lost. After the 1541 fire, the monastery was rebuilt, but this time the tree was replaced by a stone. Nevertheless, fires happened later, in 1751 and 1813 years. They caused the death of people, destroyed buildings inside the monastery, monastic cells and hotels, works of spiritual content and works of art, numbering several centuries, turned into ashes important manuscripts and historical documents.
The temple was originally one-nave, but later became a three-nave. In its present architectural form it is a dome basilica. The central altar is dedicated to the Mother of God, the right side-chapel - to all saints, and the left one - to the archangels Michael and Gabriel.
The iconostasis, according to the inscription, was built in 1755 year, that is, immediately after the 1751 fire. Both he and the temple icons were miraculously saved from the last fire of 1813 year. The famous Kikk Icon of the Mother of God is in the center of the iconostasis, it is the third in order to the left of the royal gates.
Most of the icons are written in Byzantine technique, although there are some in which elements of Western influence are clearly seen. These include those icons that were written at the end of the XVIII century by the Cretan artist John Kornaros (1745-1812). The decor of the church is complemented by lamps, large candlesticks, a chandelier of amazing Russian work of the 18th and 19th centuries, and various liturgical vessels and offerings.
The continuation of the church is a bell tower, built only in 1882 year, because for a long time Turkish rule the invaders did not allow to ring bells. There are six bells on the bell tower, the largest of which, weighing in 1280 kilogram, is cast in Russia.
The center of the Kikk monastery is the icon of the Mother of God of Kikk, which, according to the tradition handed down from generation to generation, is written by the holy apostle Luke with the Virgin Mary. This holy icon is also known as the Theotokos (The Source of Grace). It depicts the Mother of God, Which holds on the right hand of Christ. This image is known throughout the Orthodox world. Many icons were written in Greece, Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Egypt, Ethiopia, which testifies to the great veneration enjoyed by the icon among the Orthodox peoples. In 1576, the icon was covered with a silver gilt rhizome, and a new rose was installed in 1795 year. The Face of the Mother of God is closed and never opens, probably because it was the desire of Emperor Alexius Comnenus, or maybe because the icon inspires greater respect.
The people are very honored by the holy icon. In the innumerable multitude of songs, the Mother of God of Kikka is sung. There is a very large number of historical testimonies about the honors that the icon rendered during the procession of the crosses throughout the island. It was also reverently revered by believers from other countries. In the old days, going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we also visited Cyprus to visit this most famous monastery of the island. Naturally, today, when modern means of communication facilitate and reduce travel, an enormous number of pilgrims come to the icon. In the monastery come believers from many parts of the world, resorting to the miraculous power of the Virgin, asking for healing and to draw strength for the transfer of life's trials.
In the temple we see the offerings that bear witness to the miracles of the Theotokos. For example, a piece of the swordfish language was donated - in memory of the salvation from the true death of the sailors of one ship, which in 1718 was pierced by this huge fish. One negro wanted to desecrate the icon, and for that, his hand withered, the image of which in reminder of this event is next to the icon. Miracles of the Theotokos are sung in verse composed by different poets; these poems were repeatedly published in publications for the people. By the strength of the holy icon during periods of severe drought rain poured, barren wives gave birth, the sick were healed. In the past, the islanders constantly asked the Kikk monks to bring the icon to their villages for the sake of sanctification, because they believed that its presence alone was enough to stop the plague, epidemic, plague or any other natural disaster. But especially the icon helped during the drought. In historical sources, mention is made of frequent religious processions and prayers of the people with a request for intercession, that the heavens are opened.
During the Turkish rule, the Cypriots often resorted to the help of the holy icon. To transfer the icon and generally remove it outside the monastery, a special permission was required, for the issue of which the Christians applied to the authorities with a proper petition. Quite often Ottoman officials refused, and Christians had to reach the sultan himself in order to achieve firmness - permission. So, the firman 1643 of the year reports that one day the residents managed to get rid of the officials' arbitrariness by turning to the sultan.
At the top of one of the mountains to the north of the monastery is the "Throne of the Virgin." In the old days there really was a wooden throne, on which an icon was placed, when they prayed to the Theotokos, asking for rain. In 1935, the place of the wooden throne was occupied by a concrete kuvukliya, which recently was replaced by another, larger in size and more majestic. Nearby is the burial place of the first President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III (1913-1977), who was one of the brethren of the monastery.
The museum of the Kikk monastery, meeting all modern scientific requirements and international standards, was opened in May 1998. It features a rich collection of church utensils, old geographic maps, engravings, antiquities and many other objects of the island's cultural heritage. Most of the church utensils, such as vestments, icons, books and manuscripts, were kept before the opening of the museum in the monastery, but there are also exhibits in the museum that were abducted in the past, exported from Cyprus abroad, and now bought at auctions and returned home. In the monastery there is a workshop for the restoration of manuscripts, icons and monastic shrines, the masters of which make a lot of efforts to preserve the richest collection of the monastery.
The exhibition hall of the museum, according to the rector of the Kikk monastery, should not only meet high scientific criteria, but also be beautifully designed to reflect the glory and nobility of the Byzantine Empire. It must correspond to the word "royal", contained in the name of the monastery, and directly connect the monastery with the royal chambers of Constantinople, from where it leads its history and where it received the main shrine, since the tsitom of the monastery is the Byzantine emperor Alexei Komnin. Following these instructions, the floors of the exhibition halls of the museum were laid out with colorful granite and marble, and the ceilings were encrusted with walnut wood, decorated with wooden carvings and gilding.
The décor of the hall is complemented with mosaic pieces of marble, depicting symbolic subjects, and stone bas-reliefs. The atmosphere of the richly decorated exhibition hall, specially highlighted, the sound of Byzantine chants, unique exhibits, most of which are made of precious materials: gold, silver, enamel, ivory, silk, porphyry, pearls and other precious stones-help the visitor mentally move In ancient times and recreate in his presentation the glory and grandeur of Hellenism and Orthodoxy.
The museum is located in the northwest of the old ensemble of the monastery. You get to it through the vaulted entrance, which is on the north side of the upper large inner monastery yard. Opening the heavy door, the visitor appears on the staircase leading to the lobby of the museum, where in the depths, in a specially arranged place, there is a museum shop. There you can buy a variety of souvenirs (books, slides, postcards, copies of exhibits, etc.).
Most of the farmsteads operated in Cyprus, although some, besides significant ones, were in Constantinople, Smyrna and Georgia. Unfortunately, from 1974 the year of the metropolis Xiropotam, Avlon and Baradzhis, who were in the occupied territory, came to desolation. According to available information, their condition is such that they can soon turn into ruins. Compounding is an integral part of the general mosaic of the architectural ensemble of the Kikk monastery, but there are few existing studies on this topic, in addition, most of them are outdated, while others touch on particular issues of archeology, architecture or art history.