The Monasteries of Northern Cyprus

The monasteries of Northern Cyprus:- APOSTOLOS Andreas monasteries located on Cape Andreas, the farthest extent of the Karpas Peninsula, is the Apostolos Andreas Monastery.

Once known as the ‘Lourdes of Cyprus’, the Apostolos Andreas Monastery remains a holy site for the Cypriot Orthodox Church and continues to be used as a place of pilgrimage for Greek Cypriots travelling from the south.

According to legend, Saint Andreas caused a miraculous spring to appear and whose water cured blindness. In the crypt beneath the church, and famed for its healing properties, the holy well still gushes with water.

Given its historical importance, this sacred site is highly prized by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots alike, with the Northern Cypriot authorities recently announcing a €5-million restoration project to be funded at their behest.

Just three hours east of Kyrenia, those wishing to make the pilgrimage to Apostolos Andreas Monastery will not be disappointed. The journey to Cape Andreas will take you on a breath-taking road trip through the beautiful Karpas Peninsula, with no less than a miraculous well at the other end to quench your thirst for ecclesiastical history.

 

St. Barnabas Monastery:- Perhaps in parallel, if not greater, religious importance to the Greek Cypriot community is St. Barnabas Monastery located near to the ancient ruins of Salamis.

Saint Barnabas, patron saint of Cyprus, became one of the early followers of Christianity and founder of the independent Greek Orthodox Church. According to ancient sources, Barnabas was born into a Jewish family in Salamis. However, whilst undergoing his religious education in Jerusalem, he witnessed a healing miracle worked by Jesus in Bethesda and converted to Christianity. He distributed his inherited wealth to the poor and spent four decades spreading the word of Christ across Europe until he was captured by the Romans during a home visit to Cyprus and stoned to death.

It is thought to have taken four centuries before the body of Saint Barnabas was finally discovered, at which stage a church was built in his name and a monastery later founded. Whilst the original architecture was mostly destroyed during Arab raids in the 8th century AD, what stands today was constructed over the ruins.  In the church, there are four beautiful frescoes depicting the legend of how the remains of Saint Barnabas were discovered by the Bishop of Cyprus through a dream.

Today, the church serves as an icon museum, whilst St. Barnabas Monastery houses an archaeological collection with finds from the Neolithic age through to the Roman-Byzantine period.

 

The Monastery of St. Mamas:- St. Mamas Monastery in Güzelyurt is one of fourteen churches on the island of Cyprus dedicated to Saint Mamas and around whom many legends have arisen. Located in Güzelyurt, at the foothill of the Troodos mountains, this monastery is the setting for a fascinating piece of Cypriot folklore.

According to the most popular legend, Saint Mamas was a 12th-century Christian hermit who lived in a cave and pleaded poverty in response to a demand for taxes under Roman occupation. Following his arrest by armed troops, and on his way into the capital to face punishment, he saved a lamb from a ferocious lion attack and then rode the wild lion the rest of the way to meet his own fate. This astounding bravery showed Mamas to be a holy man, which in turn earned him exemption from tax for the rest of his life. Not surprisingly Saint Mamas became the patron saint of tax avoiders.

It is thought that the body of Saint Mamas was placed in a coffin after his death and sent out to sea by Jesus Christ himself. After being washed up on the shores of Güzelyurt, a local peasant hauled the sarcophagus inland as far as he could drag it. In accordance with an apparition advising him what to do next, the obedient peasant proceeded to build a church around it.

This sarcophagus can be found in St Mamas Monastery at Güzelyurt. Whilst the monastery is built upon ancient Byzantine ruins, the existing architecture dates predominantly from the 18th century. Moreover, its humble façade doesn’t even hint at the splendid interior that remains a testament to the rich ecclesiastical heritage still to be found in North Cyprus.