Hundreds of pilgrims travelled to Apostolos Andreas monastery in the Karpaz peninsula on Sunday to take part in the service to mark the saint’s name day.
With the monastery currently under renovation, the liturgy was carried out at the temporary church set up in one of the monastery’s auxiliary buildings by Karpaz’s Bishop Christophoros.
Speaking at another Apostle Andreas church in Strovolos, the Archbishop Chrysostomos said that the renovation work at the crumbling monastery in the north was going smoothly.
The work, for which the Cyprus church and the Turkish Cypriot religious foundation EVKAF signed a €2.5m agreement each, is being carried out by a partnership between a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot construction company and is being overseen by the United Nations development programme.
The project is in accordance with the designs of the University of Patras of Greece and is expected to be completed in April 2016.
The archbishop said that he had asked the Turkish Cypriot Mufti Dr Talip Atalay for his help in plans to also renovate the monastery near Famagusta dedicated to the founder of the church in Cyprus, Apostle Varnavas. The saint’s grave is located at the monastery.
“We have to preserve our monuments before they collapse because then it will be too late and we will not be able to rebuild them,” the archbishop said.
Differences have finally been set aside as renovation work many years overdue has finally begun on one of Cyprus’ most symbolic and loved monuments, the historic monastery of Apostolos Andreas in Karpaz. Renovation of the historic site is the 21st project undertaken since 2009 by the UN Development Programme in tandem with the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage.
Years of disputes between the sides, and also between experts, on the way the complex was to be restored meant warnings that the structure could soon collapse, came very close to being ignored.
The monastery traces its roots to Apostle Andreas himself since, according to legend, the monastery was built on the spot where a boat carrying the saint ran aground on rocks during a journey to the Holy Land. Natural spring water flows from the site which locals call holy water (ayazma) and consider it to have healing powers. It is a focus of pilgrimage, with many visitors offering prayers and lightening candles for the sick.
A small chapel had been built close to the shore in the 15th century, while the church of the main monastery was erected in 1867. Lack of maintenance work meant the monastery was quite literally in danger of collapse.
The church is now a construction site and visiting journalists were made to wear safety helmets and jackets. The contractors working on the site are both Turkish and Greek Cypriot.
The first face which began in September will see monastery´s church and adjoining buildings restored. The work, which will also include the refurbishment of the complex´s chapel and fountain is scheduled for completion by April 2016.