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First services after 1974 at church of founder of Church of Cyprus
2005-06-13 13:44:28

Nicosia Jun 11 (CNA) -- For the first time since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, church services were held at the small monastery of the founder of the Church of Cyprus Saint Barnabas, in the northeast part of the island.

Bishop Trimithountos Vasilios officiated the evening service for todayís religious day honoring the founder of the Church of Cyprus, in a somber but emotional atmosphere.

The Bishop was assisted by other clergy, who led the congregation to prayer.

In statements, Bishop Vasilios said he would not stop working until he sees all the churches in Turkish occupied Cyprus reopen to welcome the faithful.

He said he was very moved to be back, 31 years later, at the place where he started as a young deacon.

''At first glance I can see that the building of the church and that of the tomb of Saint Varnavas have not changed much, apart from wear and tear that time has caused,'' he said.

He said however that for himself and all those who returned to the monastery this was a very emotional time, as they remembered the church fete and special feasts they celebrated there.

A second service was held this morning, feast day of the saint, with the participation of around 850 Greek Cypriot pilgrims.

The monastery was turned into a museum but some of the icons are still standing in the church, which is very close to Varnavasís burial place.

People entering the monastery were subjected to security checks, eyewitnesses said. After the service at the monastery, clergy and laymen went to the nearby tomb of Saint Barnabas.

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