April 25, 2009

Writings of Saint Neophytos Presented At Conference

Monastery of Saint Neophytos in Cyprus

Ancient Works by Paphos Saint Presented at Conference

Bejay Browne
23 April 2009
Cyprus Mail

Six volumes of work by Saint Neophytos, which took scholars 15 years to collate, were presented to the public yesterday, at Ayios Neophytos monastery’s first international conference at the Coral Beach hotel in Paphos.

Saint Neophytos was born in 1134 in Lefkara and came from a large, poor, rural family. Since he was a small boy, he was drawn to religious teachings and monastic life. As a hermit, he wrote on the subjects of history, theology and civilisation, and these are included in the first of his completed written works, which premiered at the conference, and are being analysed by learned professors during the five-day event.

Among those invited to the opening ceremony were President Christofias, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, Education Minister Andreas Demetriou, the Dean of Neapolis University in Paphos and representatives of Athens Academy. There was also a brief address by Eleni Glykatzi Arveler, the Dean of the University of Sorbonne.

Neophytos founded the monastery in 1159 and he wrote a large number of theological works, including his Ritual Ordinance for Monastic Life and his view of the history of Cyprus, Concerning the Misfortunes of the Land of Cyprus. Neophytos was also a vocal critic of the Byzantine tax collectors.

The monastery is steeped in history and the building as well as the man himself have been of interest to scholars and the public for many years.

The Egkleistra is a cave that Neophytos carved out of the mountainside and made his home for 45 years. Inside are a number of fine Byzantine frescoes dating from the 12th to 15th centuries. It’s now open for public viewing. He spent the remaining five years of his life in a cave higher up the mountain.

The monastery in Paphos is still home to monks today and contains a collection of icons and the remains of some 16th century frescoes. The views from the monastery are spectacular as the site is 412m above sea level and looks out across Paphos.

The main part of the monastery was built in 1500 and the monastery also has a church and an ecclesiastical museum. Saint Neophytos’ bones are kept in a box in the church close to the iconostasis.