ISLAND OF SAINTS
Many of the early Christians in order to escape persecution in Palestine, fled to neighbouring parts of the Mediterranean, including the island of Cyprus. In 45 AD, Apostle Paul begins his great missionary journeys, at the instigation of two Cypriots, Apostle Barnabas and his nephew St. Mark. Their first stop was their beloved homeland Cyprus. Cyprus would become one of the first places where Christianity was embraced, gradually becoming deeply rooted in the island’s history, to the extent that historians call it since ”the island of Saints’’. Apostles Paul and Barnabas encountered in Cyprus St. Lazarus following his resurrection and ordained him Bishop of Kition. Historical sources include that Lazarus was buried in a marble urn which bore the inscription ‘‘four-day and friend of Christ, Lazarus’’. Saint Helena, on her journey back from Jerusalem to Constantinople, disembarked on Cyprus carrying with her the True Cross, the nails of the Crucifixion as well as the rope with which Jesus was tied on the Cross. According to the tradition, Helena, following a miracle, decides to build a Church in Cyprus which later became a Monastery. Helena left in the Monastery part of the precious and life-giving True Cross. There are many remarkable shrines in Cyprus built through the years. For example, the Holy Monastery of Stavrovouni which hosts part of the True Cross, the Holy Monastery of Kykkos hosting precious relics of many Saints. Pilgrims can also visit the Church St. Lazarus in Larnaca hosting St. Lazarus’ relics and his second tomb. The Holy Monastery of the Holy Cross in Omodos is also another important shrine where a piece of the rope used in the Crucifixion of Jesus is displayed for veneration. There is the Holy Monastery of St. Irakleidios where one can venerate the tomb and the Holy head of St. Irakleidus, a well as the Monastery of St. Neophytus, the Machairas Monastery, the Holy Monastery of Saint John the Illuminator and many other notable shrines included in our pilgrimage tour.