Church of Cyprus

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Church of Cyprus
Church of Cyprus.svg
Coat of arms of the Church of Cyprus.
Primate Chrysostomos II
Bishops16
Monasteries67
Language Koine Greek
Headquarters Nicosia, Cyprus
Territory Cyprus
Founder Barnabas the Apostle
IndependenceAD 431
RecognitionAD 478 (Eastern Orthodox Church)
Separations Greek Old Calendarists (1924)
Members500,000 [1]
Official website www.churchofcyprus.org.cy OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
St. John's Cathedral, Nicosia Nicosia 01-2017 img09 StJohn the Apostle Church.jpg
St. John's Cathedral, Nicosia

The Church of Cyprus (Greek : Ἐκκλησία τῆς Κύπρου) is one of the autocephalous Greek Orthodox Churches that together with other Eastern Orthodox Churches form the communion of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is one of the oldest Eastern Orthodox autocephalous churches, achieving independence from the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East in 431. The bishop of the ancient capital, Salamis (renamed Constantia by Emperor Constantius II) was constituted metropolitan by Emperor Zeno, with the title archbishop .

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Autocephaly Christian hierarchical practice

Autocephaly is the status of a hierarchical Christian Church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop. The term is primarily used in Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. The status has been compared with that of the churches (provinces) within the Anglican Communion.

Greek Orthodox Church Orthodox Christian denominations descended from a Greek cultural tradition, Wikimedia disambiguation page

The name Greek Orthodox Church, or Greek Orthodoxy, is a term referring to the body of several Churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, whose liturgy is or was traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the Septuagint and the New Testament, and whose history, traditions, and theology are rooted in the early Church Fathers and the culture of the Byzantine Empire. Greek Orthodox Christianity has also traditionally placed heavy emphasis and awarded high prestige to traditions of Eastern Orthodox monasticism and asceticism, with origins in Early Christianity in the Near East and in Byzantine Anatolia.

History of the church

Roman era

Paul the Apostle, accompanied by Barnabas and Mark the Evangelist (Barnabas' kinsman), came to Cyprus in AD 45 to spread Christianity. Arriving at Salamis, they travelled across the island to Paphos, where Sergius Paulus was the first Roman official to convert to Christianity. In AD 50 Barnabas returned to Cyprus accompanied by St. Mark and set up his base in Salamis. He is considered to be the first Archbishop of Cyprus. Some Christians say Barnabas was stoned to death by the Jews on the outskirts of Salamis, where he was also buried.

Paul the Apostle Early Christian apostle and missionary

Paul the Apostle, commonly known as Saint Paul and also known by his Jewish name Saul of Tarsus, was an apostle who taught the gospel of Christ to the first-century world. Paul is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age and in the mid-30s to the mid-50s AD he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. He took advantage of his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to minister to both Jewish and Roman audiences.

Barnabas one of the earliest Christian disciples

Barnabas, born Joseph, was according to tradition an early Christian, one of the prominent Christian disciples in Jerusalem. According to Acts 4:36, Barnabas was a Cypriot Jew. Named an apostle in Acts 14:14, he and Paul the Apostle undertook missionary journeys together and defended Gentile converts against the Judaizers. They traveled together making more converts, and participated in the Council of Jerusalem. Barnabas and Paul successfully evangelized among the "God-fearing" Gentiles who attended synagogues in various Hellenized cities of Anatolia.

Mark the Evangelist Author of the Gospel of Mark and Christian saint; traditionally identified with John Mark

Mark the Evangelist is the traditionally ascribed author of the Gospel of Mark. Mark is said to have founded the Church of Alexandria, one of the most important episcopal sees of early Christianity. His feast day is celebrated on April 25, and his symbol is the winged lion.

A few of the bishops who helped spread Christianity on the island were Lazarus, the Bishop of Kition, Herakleidios the Bishop of Tamasos, Avxivios the Bishop of Soloi, and Theodotos the Bishop of Kyrenia.

Lazarus of Bethany religious figure, died and was brought back to life

Lazarus of Bethany, also known as Saint Lazarus or Lazarus of the Four Days, venerated in the Orthodox Church as (Righteous) Lazarus the Four Days Dead after he rose again. is the subject of a prominent miracle of Jesus in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus restores him to life four days after his death. The Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions offer varying accounts of the later events of his life.

Kition ancient Phoenician city in Cyprus

Kition, also known by its Latin name Citium, was a city-kingdom on the southern coast of Cyprus. It was established in the 13th century BC.

Kyrenia Place in Kyrenia District, Cyprus

Kyrenia is a city on the northern coast of Cyprus, noted for its historic harbour and castle. It is under the de facto control of Northern Cyprus.

Towards the end of the 4th century, Christianity had spread throughout the island. During this time St. Epiphanius was Archbishop. His seat was in Salamis, which was renamed Constantia.

Christianity in the 4th century Christianity-related events during the 4th century

Christianity in the 4th century was dominated in its early stage by Constantine the Great and the First Council of Nicaea of 325, which was the beginning of the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils (325–787), and in its late stage by the Edict of Thessalonica of 380, which made Nicene Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire.

Epiphanius of Salamis Christian bishop and saint

Epiphanius of Salamis was the bishop of Salamis, Cyprus at the end of the 4th century. He is considered a saint and a Church Father by both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of orthodoxy. He is best known for composing the Panarion, a very large compendium of the heresies up to his own time, full of quotations that are often the only surviving fragments of suppressed texts. According to Ernst Kitzinger, he "seems to have been the first cleric to have taken up the matter of Christian religious images as a major issue", and there has been much controversy over how many of the quotations attributed to him by the Byzantine Iconoclasts were actually by him. Regardless of this he was clearly strongly against some contemporary uses of images in the church.

Byzantine era

This independent position by ancient custom was recognized, against the claims of the Patriarch of Antioch, at the Council of Ephesus (431), and by an edict of Emperor Zeno. When the Archbishop of Antioch tried to abolish the Church of Cyprus' autocephaly, the Cypriot clergy denounced this before the Council of Ephesus. The Council ratified the autocephaly of the Church of Cyprus by its 8th canon.

Patriarch of Antioch is a traditional title held by the Bishop of Antioch As the traditional "overseer" of the first gentile Christian community, the position has been of prime importance in the church from its earliest period. This diocese is one of the few for which the names of its bishops from the apostolic beginnings have been preserved. Today five churches use the title of Patriarch of Antioch: the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Syriac Catholic Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, and the Maronite Church. Historically, there has also been a Latin Patriarch of Antioch.

Council of Ephesus ecumenical council in Ephesus in June–July 431, convened by Emperor Theodosius II; confirmed the Nicene Creed; condemned Nestorianism and Pelagianism; condemned interference by the Bishop of Antioch in affairs of the church in Cyprus

The Council of Ephesus was a council of Christian bishops convened in Ephesus in AD 431 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius II. This third ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, confirmed the original Nicene Creed, and condemned the teachings of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who held that the Virgin Mary may be called the Christotokos, "Birth Giver of Christ" but not the Theotokos, "Birth Giver of God". It met in June and July 431 at the Church of Mary in Ephesus in Anatolia.

Canon law is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the individual national churches within the Anglican Communion. The way that such church law is legislated, interpreted and at times adjudicated varies widely among these three bodies of churches. In all three traditions, a canon was originally a rule adopted by a church council; these canons formed the foundation of canon law.

In 478, Archbishop Anthemios of Cyprus claimed that following a vision he had found the grave of Barnabas and his relics. On the saint's chest rested a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. The church was thus able to send a cogent argument on its own behalf to the Emperor: the discovery of the relics of its reputed founder, Barnabas. Zeno confirmed the status of the Church of Cyprus and granted its Archbishop the "three privileges": namely to sign his name in an ink made vermilion by the addition of cinnabar; to wear tyrian purple instead of black robes under his vestments; and to hold an imperial sceptre (i.e. a gilt staff of silver, topped by a gold globus cruciger) instead of the regular episcopal crosier.

Relic ancient religious object preserved for purposes of veneration

In religion, a relic usually consists of the physical remains of a saint or the personal effects of the saint or venerated person preserved for purposes of veneration as a tangible memorial. Relics are an important aspect of some forms of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Shamanism, and many other religions. Relic derives from the Latin reliquiae, meaning "remains", and a form of the Latin verb relinquere, to "leave behind, or abandon". A reliquary is a shrine that houses one or more religious relics.

Gospel of Matthew Book of the New Testament

The Gospel According to Matthew is the first book of the New Testament and one of the three synoptic gospels. It tells how the promised Messiah, Jesus, rejected by Israel, is killed, is raised from the dead, and finally sends the disciples to preach the gospel to the whole world. Most scholars believe it was composed between AD 80 and 90, with a range of possibility between AD 70 to 110. The anonymous author was probably a male Jew, standing on the margin between traditional and non-traditional Jewish values, and familiar with technical legal aspects of scripture being debated in his time. Writing in a polished Semitic "synagogue Greek", he drew on the Gospel of Mark as a source, and likely used a hypothetical collection of sayings known as the Q source, although the existence of Q has been questioned by some scholars. He also used material unique to his own community, called the M source or "Special Matthew".

Vermilion color

Vermilion is both a brilliant red or scarlet pigment, originally made from the powdered mineral cinnabar, and the corresponding color. It was widely used in the art and decoration of Ancient Rome, in the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, in the paintings of the Renaissance, as sindoor in India, and in the art and lacquerware of China.

Cyprus suffered greatly from Arab invasions in the following centuries, and during the reign of Justinian II the cities of Constantia, Kourion and Paphos were sacked. At the advice of the Emperor, the Archbishop fled to the Dardanelles along with the survivors, and established the city of Nova Justiniana (Greek : Νέα Ιουστινιανή, Néa Iustinianē), named after the Emperor, at Erdek near the city of Cyzicus. In 692 the Quinisext Council reconfirmed the status and privileges of the exiled Archbishop and in 698, when the Arabs were driven out of Cyprus, the Archbishop returned but retained the title of "Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus": a custom that, along with the "three privileges", continues to this day.

Crusader era

Ayia Napa Monastery Agia Napa Monastery arcade.jpg
Ayia Napa Monastery

After the establishment of the Kingdom of Cyprus, the Catholic kings gradually reduced the number of Orthodox bishops from 14 to 4 and forced those away from their towns. The archbishop was moved from Nicosia to the region of Solia, near Morphou, the bishop of Larnaca was moved to the village of Lefkara etc. Each Orthodox bishop was under the Catholic bishop of the area. The Catholic Church tried on occasion to coax the Orthodox bishops to make concessions on the differences in doctrine and practices between the two churches, sometimes with threats and sometimes using violence and torture, as in the case of the 13 monks at Kantara monastery.[ citation needed ] Moreover, the properties of many monasteries were confiscated. The persecutions, especially during the Frankish period, did not succeed in uprooting the faith of the Greek Cypriots.

Despite initial frictions, the two churches gradually managed to coexist side by side peacefully. The local Orthodox Christians shared some of the benefits of the economic development of Cyprus and especially Famagusta at the time. The Orthodox cathedral of St George (known as Saint George of the Greeks – today in ruins) is almost as high and monumental as the nearby Catholic cathedral of St Nicholas (a mosque since 1571), and is also an example of an interesting fusion of gothic and Byzantine architecture.

The Franks were succeeded by the Venetians in 1489 without any significant change to the status of the Orthodox Church.

Ottoman era

The conquest of Cyprus by the Ottoman Empire in 1571 led to the recognition of the Orthodox Church as the only legal Christian church. The church was considered by the Ottomans to be the political leadership of the Christian population ( Rum millet ) and was responsible for collecting taxes. Because of the different policies of the Ottoman Empire towards Muslim and non-Muslim citizens, especially regarding taxation, some Christians converted to Islam. These are known in Cyprus with the name "Linopampakoi".

Under Ottoman rule the position of the Cypriot Church was greatly enhanced through the application of the millet system, whereby the head of each religious community was answerable to the governor for its behavior. The Ottomans, while trying to reduce Latin influence, treated the Orthodox Cypriots with consideration and gained their good will. The Ottomans assured them free enjoyment of their religion, with the undisturbed possession of their churches; gave them permission to acquire houses and land, with the power of transmission to their heirs; recognized the supremacy of the Orthodox community over all other Christian denominations in the island.[ citation needed ]

In later times the Church developed so great an influence on temporal affairs that at the beginning of the nineteenth century the Archbishop was in fact ruling Cyprus through his control of its finances. The first rumble was heard in 1804, when the Turks of the capital and the adjoining villages faced a shortage of foodstuffs a violent demonstration against the Archbishop had been organized. This was because of the fortuitous presence of some Turkish troops in transit, and life seemed to resume its normal course. In 1821 with the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, the Greeks of Cyprus attempted to follow in the footsteps of those of Greece, such was the accusation which Küçük Mehmed brought against the bishops and the leading Greek laymen of the Island. As a result of this Archbishop Kyprianos, the three bishops of Paphos, Kition and Kyrenia together with other leading ecclesiastics and citizens were arrested. The Archbishop and his archdeacon were summarily hanged, the three bishops beheaded and the notables dispatched by the Janissaries. The Cypriot Orthodox Church had paid a terrible penalty for its abuse of power. This was the worst experience between Orthodox Church of Cyprus and Ottoman administration, and beginning of political separation.

British colonial rule

The purchase of Cyprus by the British in 1878 allowed more freedom in religious practices, such as the use of bells in churches (which were forbidden under the Ottomans). Some linopampakoi took advantage of the political change to convert back to Christianity.

John Hackett published A history of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus in 1901. At about the same time the church went through a crisis regarding the succession of the archbishop. The two candidates, Kyrillos II and Kyrillos III had mainly political differences (one was a nationalist whereas the other was a moderate).

Although the Church gained more freedom under British rule, the British administration interfered, in certain cases, using restrictive laws on the management of the church and other areas of national and cultural activity. This led to the October 1931 riot organised by bishops who were also members of the legislative assembly. As a consequence of this uprising, bishops Nikodemos of Kition, and Makarios of Kyrenia were exiled, and restrictions were imposed on the election of the Archbishop. As a result, the filling of the Archbishop's throne was pending from 1933 (the death of Archbishop Kyrillos III) to 1946, when the Bishop of Paphos, Leontios, was elected as the new Archbishop.

In 1950, Makarios III was elected Archbishop. While still Bishop of Kition he had demonstrated strong intellectual and national activity. In 1949 he founded the Apostle Varnavas Seminary, and in 1950 he organised the referendum on the Union ( Enosis ) between Cyprus and Greece. While archbishop he was the political leader of the EOKA liberation struggle in the years 1955–1959. The British exiled him to the Seychelles because of his activities.

Cypriot independence

In 1960, Archbishop Makarios III was elected President of the newly established Republic of Cyprus. Disagreements of the other three bishops with Makarios lead to the Ecclesiastical coup. Following the dethronement of the Bishops of Paphos, Kitium and Kyrenia for conspiring against Makarios, two new Bishoprics were created: the Bishopric of Limassol which was detached from the Bishopric of Kition, and the Bishopric of Morfou which was detached from the Bishopric of Kyrenia. The coup d'état of 15 July 1974 forced Archbishop Makarios III to leave the island. He returned in December 1974.

Turkish invasion

The coup d'état was followed by the Turkish invasion of 20 July 1974 which significantly affected the Church and its flock: as 35% of Cyprus' territory came under Turkish occupation, hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Christians were displaced and those that could not or did not want to leave (20,000 initially) faced oppression. As of May 2001 figures only 421 Greek Orthodox Cypriots and 155 Maronites remain in North Cyprus.

The destruction of Christian monuments was another important consequence. [2] Churches containing Byzantine icons, frescoes and mosaics have been pillaged by antiquities dealers and sold on the black market. One of the most prominent cases of pillage was of the mosaics of Panayia of Kanakaria of the 6th century AD, which were finally returned to the Church of Cyprus, following rulings by federal courts in Indianapolis and Chicago. [3] In Northern Cyprus, there are 514 churches, chapels and monasteries, many of which were converted to mosques, museums or abandoned. [4]

Recent events

On 3 August 1977, Archbishop Makarios died and was succeeded by Archbishop Chrysostomos I. In 1979, the new Statutory Charter of the Church of Cyprus was drawn up and approved replacing the old one of 1914.

In old age, Archbishop Chrysostomos suffered from Alzheimer's disease and was unable to carry out his duties for a number of years. In May 2006, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I chaired a broader meeting of church elders which called for Chrysostomos' "honorary removal".

Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Paphos, 65, was elected the new archbishop on 5 November 2006, after a long-running election campaign, becoming Archbishop Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus.

Administration and Holy Synod

Archbishop's Palace, Nicosia Nicosia 01-2017 img10 Archbishops Palace.jpg
Archbishop's Palace, Nicosia

The Holy Synod of the Autocephalous Church of Cyprus is the highest church authority in Cyprus. Its task is to examine and provide solutions on all issues concerning the Church of Cyprus. Head of the Holy Synod and of the Church of Cyprus is Chrysostomos II (Herodotus) Dimitriou, Archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus.

Metropolises and Metropolitans

Dioceses and Bishops

Titular Dioceses and Bishops

The Holy Synod meets regularly in the first week after Easter and in the first fortnight of the months of February and September. It meets in ad hoc sessions when it is deemed necessary or when two of its members put forward a request.

Religious sites in Cyprus

See also

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References

  1. CNEWA - Orthodox Church of Cyprus
  2. Bachman, Carolyn (2003). "An Introduction to the Issue of Preserving Cultural Heritage". Brown Classical Journal. 15. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
  3. Bourloyannis, Christiane; Virginia Morris (January 1992). "Autocephalous Greek-Orthodox Church of Cyprus v. Goldberg & Feldman Fine Arts, Inc". The American Journal of International Law . 86 (1): 128–133. doi:10.2307/2203143. JSTOR   2203143.
  4. Morris, Chris (2002-01-18). "Shame of Cyprus' looted churches". BBC. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
  5. Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 11-11-20

Coordinates: 35°10′06″N33°20′10″E / 35.1683°N 33.3362°E / 35.1683; 33.3362