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Christ's Isle of Christ: 5 shrines of Cyprus

Christ's Isle of Christ: 5 shrines of Cyprus

14.05.2018
Tags: Cyprus, Religion, Orthodoxy

In every city of Cyprus there is a beach of Aphrodite. Wherever you go in Cyprus, you will be convinced that the Greek goddess of love has come ashore from the foam of the sea in their settlement - so zealously here refer to the ancient mythology. This is despite the fact that most of the Cypriots are Orthodox, and they are no less jealous of Christianity: every village has to have at least one temple, and all residents on Sundays go together to the liturgy. About where to go to a Russian pilgrim on one of the most popular resorts of the Mediterranean - in the material of correspondents of Thomas.

The Church of St. Lazarus: the Tomb of the Friend of Christ

His Cypriots are considered one of the most beautiful buildings on the island. In ancient times, pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land, necessarily made a stop here to worship the only person who in the Gospels is called the friend of Christ. Soon after his miraculous resurrection, Lazarus was forced to flee to the island, fleeing persecution. Later he became the first bishop of the city of Kition (the old name of Larnaka) and lived here for 30 years.

After his death, Lazarus was buried in a marble tomb. During the reign of the Arabs in the middle of the VII century it was lost, and only in 890 year it was found again. As before, above it was written "Lazarus the Fourfold, a friend of Christ." The Byzantine emperor Leo IV the Wise ordered the erection of a stone church over the tomb. Since then, people have come here every day.

To the tomb of Christ's friend, brother of Martha and Mary, leads a stone staircase to the right of the altar. Next to it is a small source of water. Lazarus pray for the healing of the sick, and here you can get acquainted with a peculiar local tradition - to bring to his burial wax images of the healed. Such master dolls are made all over the island.

In the main festival of St. Lazarus - Lazarev Saturday, for 8 days before Easter, the icon of the saint is taken to the streets of the city. The Cypriots are very proud of the fact that he lived on their land, and they form legends about him. One of them tells how a salty lake appeared near Larnaka. Once in its place was a beautiful vineyard, which belonged to an elderly woman. When passing by him Lazar, thirsty and tired, asked her for a small bunch of grapes, the old woman refused him. Saint Lazarus asked, pointing to the full basket of fragrant berries: "What is this?" And in response he heard: "Salt". Grieved by the deception, Lazar said: "From now on, let everything here turn into salt." The lake can be seen now. Salt here stopped mining recently.

Lazarus really dreamed of meeting with the Mother of God, and one day his wish came true. And four centuries later, Her Cypriot icon was found at his tomb. On it the Most Holy Theotokos is depicted sitting on the throne with the infant Christ, and on the sides there are two angels with branches. A copy of the image was kept even in the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. About this story - in the continuation of the material.

Temple of Panagia Angelokisty: "Church of the Theotokos, built by angels"

It was for this icon that the Panagia Angelokisty was built. According to legend, the Virgin Mary descended to these places to ask to build a church here. But, unfortunately, no one was near at the moment to hear her request. At that time angels came to help. They promised Mary to build a church here without anybody's help. And indeed, when Mary the next day again visited this place, the church was already standing. Since then, it has become customary to call this church "built by angels."

According to another legend, the construction of the church was started by the inhabitants of Kition (an ancient city-state in the southern part of Cyprus), but they did not find it in the morning. Construction overnight was moved to another location. The next night, intrigued residents decided to follow the church. The heavens opened and a host of angels sank to the ground. The temple was completed in one night.

The interior of Angelokisti is a magnificent example of Byzantine art. The mosaic in the altar, depicting the Virgin Mary with the infant and the archangels Michael and Gabriel, dates back to the VI century. It was similar only to Mount Sinai. Already at the end of the nineteenth century, in an art criticism, this mosaic was placed on a par with the ancient mosaics of Ravenna and Rome, as well as the famous murals of the church of St. Demetrios in Greek Thessaloniki.

Every day prayers are held in the church, and on weekends a liturgy is served, for which all the inhabitants of the village of Kitty gather. And on an ideal green lawn near the altar wall of the temple grow old mastic pistachio trees - some of the oldest in this part of the island. Their resin is considered healing and is sold throughout Cyprus.

Church of St. John the Divine: Orthodoxy in the city

Directly at the residence of the Archbishop of Cyprus in the island capital of Nicosia is a small temple in honor of the beloved disciple of Jesus Christ - John the Divine. It was to him that Christ entrusted the care of the Theotokos.

A small temple outside looks very ascetic. The thing is that it was built in the XVII century, during the Turkish rule. In the Ottoman Empire, not a single Christian church had the right to compete with the mosque neither in height nor in appearance, and in general it was not allowed to build them. "Miracle of the Lord, that it happened in general!", Bishop Mesaloryi Grigory, the "right hand" of the Primate of the Church of Cyprus, spreads his hands. He himself conducts us a tour of the temple and a sonorous baritone with the applause of believers and German tourists singing "Christ anesti et nekron."

Now it is the cathedral of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. His paintings are an object of special pride of the islanders. Here are the moments of the Ecumenical Councils, the paintings of the Last Judgment, and the assurance of the Apostle Thomas. Above the iconostasis is the "heavenly liturgy", shining in glory, Christ in the image of the Great Bishop, surrounded by heavenly powers and blessing all living things.

In the temple it is strictly forbidden to shoot: no video, no photo - to anyone. But the photographer "Foma" was made an exception.

And behind the temple is a small museum with a unique collection of Byzantine icons. Some of which date back to the 9th century. In one of its halls you can see pictures of Orthodox shrines on the northern, Turkish part of the island. Their fate is unenviable - almost all the temples were plundered, old mosaics and icons were taken to Europe and America. The Church and authorities of Cyprus have been trying for years to return at least a small part of the lost back from that part of the island where the Turkish troops invaded 1970.

The museum also houses an art gallery of Western European art. Some of the exhibits are exact copies of lost masterpieces, for example, a two-level iconostasis from the Church of St. Nicholas in Kakopetria.

Cyprus is divided so far. Through the old center of Nicosia and its main shopping street is the so-called "Green Line", guarded by a contingent of the UN Peacekeeping Forces on the island. In the northern part of the island today there is not a single functioning Orthodox church.

Kikk monastery: the abode of the main shrine of Cyprus

The main shrine of Cyprus, the miraculous Kikks icon of the Virgin, according to tradition, was written by the apostle and evangelist Luke. In Cyprus, it fell in the XI century under the emperor Alexei Comnenus. According to legend, the Byzantine governor of Cyprus Archon Manuel Vutomitis went on a hunt to the Troodos Mountains, lost his way and met a hermit named Isaiah. What happened next is not very clear - apparently, the proud prince treated the ascetic impolitely and on his return to Nicosia fell seriously ill. Deciding that the disease was sent to him as punishment for being rude, he sent the servants to find Isaiah and asked him for forgiveness. He, without saying anything, began to pray, and soon the disease receded. Vutomitis promised Isaiah to give everything that he asked for, but the saint did not want any money or titles, asking only to bring him from Constantinople an icon of the Mother of God - one of those written by the Evangelist Luke. Immediately they both sailed to the imperial capital.

They found the ruler in great sorrow-his only daughter was sick with the same illness that the archon had previously struck. And again, with the prayers of Isaiah, a miracle happened, and the ailment receded. But to part with the icon Alexei Komnin was not easy. As a result, he fell ill. The image of the Virgin went to Cyprus. It was met not only by people: as one of the texts says, the trees that met on the way to the procession bent low, and the shells miraculously emerged from the sea and followed the procession. It's amazing, but today in the forest areas of Tilliria you can really see the inclined pine and sea shells.

Actually, for the storage of the precious image, the Kikk monastery was founded. Originally it was wooden, like all monastery buildings. After several fires in the 16th century, the monastery was rebuilt in stone. True, this did not help much. As in the famous novel by the medievalist Umberto Eco "The Name of the Rose", in 1751 and 1813 years, the fire destroyed thousands of books, manuscripts and historical documents. People died, buildings collapsed. But the icon of the Mother of God survived.

From the first day her face is closed and never opens - maybe, so wished Alexey Komnin, and maybe, so the image inspires even greater respect. Russian monk Vasily (Barsky), who visited the monastery in 1735 year, writes that the monks open the face of the icon only during the rainy season - and then only after they first transfer it to the top of the neighboring mountain and they will sing a moleben. But they also do not see the icon, because at that moment it is facing the sky.

An open copy of the wonderworking image hangs here, next to the iconostasis. It is myrrh - on the face of the Mother of God streams flow clearly. And the oil from the lamp, burning at that, the famous icon, is distributed to all pilgrims.

In addition to the icon, the Kikk monastery holds a "thousand relics" - in the large hall open to visitors, there are pieces of the relics of St. Luke, St. Nicholas, John the Baptist, St. George the Victorious, Apostle Philip, Matrona of Moscow, Spiridon of Trimiphunt and dozens of holy ascetics. This is one of the largest collections of relics in the Orthodox world.

And at the entrance to the main laurel of Cyprus is selling the famous "Commandaria" - dessert wine, which began to be done by knight-Hospitallers. Today it is also used at the liturgy for the sacrament of parishioners.

Monastery of the Holy Cross: the keeper of a unique relic

Omodos is a small ancient mountain village in Troodos, located at an altitude of almost a kilometer above sea level. Sheer green slopes, white houses on narrow streets, benches with bread, olives and wine.

In its very center stands the monastery of the Holy Cross, founded in the III century. In the 17th century, the Cypriot chronicler Neophyte Rodinos mentioned the monastery in his book "Heroes, generals, saints, philosophers and other outstanding Cypriots", noting that it contains not only a piece of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord, but also a piece of rope to which Christ was attached to him . The holy rope to this day keeps the traces of the Savior's blood, and this is the only relic of its kind in the world. The honest head of the Apostle Philip, with the seals of the Byzantine emperors, testifying to its authenticity, lies right there, at the entrance.

The monastery has not worked for a long time, here is now a regular parish church with a cozy courtyard. We ended up in it shortly before the evening service. As elsewhere in Cyprus, anyone here, woman and child, can go straight to the altar, kiss the Royal Gates and all the icons. Handkerchiefs for girls are not required here, moreover, the hat will be asked to take off. But at the entrance to the temple hang stylish long clothes for those whose kind is not too "orthodox".

And painted the temple artists from Russia. The monastery for several centuries maintained close ties with our country. Thanks to this, there are as many as four icons written in Old Russian style. All of them were transported to Omodos from Russia in the XIX century.

MIKHEEV Alexey, MAKOVEYCHUK Julia
THOMAS
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