March 1, 2016

Saint Synesios of Lysi in Cyprus

St. Synesios of Lysi (Feast Day - March 1)

Saint Synesios the Wonderworker lived as an ascetic near Lysi, in the region of Ailasyka of Cyprus, some time between the 10th and 12th centuries, where he lived in a carved cave, a Roman tomb chamber.

With his holiness and wisdom he gained great fame, and when he reposed he was canonized and in his honor a small vaulted chapel was built there, which formed the central area of an eventual monastic complex. Although there have been no excavations, from the surrounding foundations it is estimated that it was the Katholikon of a small Monastery, which in the final years of the Turkish occupation stopped operating and became deserted. Furthermore, there is evidence that the building material of the ruins of the Monastery were used by the British during the construction of the dam in Kouklia, and only the chapel was kept intact as a sacred place. The same happened with the ruins from the Church of Saint Theodore, who also lived as an ascetic in the same period in the region of Ailasyka, two hundred meters west of Saint Synesios.

Inside the chapel was frescoed around the 15th century, but due to unfavorable historical conditions the unmaintained frescoes are in bad condition. When the chapel was being maintained in 1903 most of the frescoes were coated, and when the floors were being marbled a decorated coffin was discovered with the relic of the Saint. The reaction of the Church Committee at that time, lest they be accused by the British authorities of grave robbing, was to bury the holy relic inside the chapel, and they tried to get rid of the coffin by giving it to the priest of Lefkoniko, and they carried the brass cross found in it to the Church of the Panagia of Lysi, where it was kept until 1974 then became lost. The coffin miraculously returned and remained in the area of the chapel until 1974. After the Turkish invasion the Chapel of Saint Synesios was horribly looted. The fresco of the Panagia in the apse was detached and it has since been missing. The same happened with the coffin with the venerable relic of the Saint.

Today the deserted chapel invites heartbreak and pain to its visitors, especially the local people of Lysi and their neighbors, who remember it as a place of consolation and prayer. It still stands, left abandoned, to the mercy of the elements, without a door. Inside it is burnt, the floor is excavated, there is no iconostasis, and high above the apse remains looted without consolation from the Panagia. Facing the desecrated stones, your soul bleeds, and you seek justice.

Saint Synesios of Lysi should not be confused with Saint Synesios the Bishop of Karpasia. He is a local Saint unknown to most, but one of his frescoes, which is in the Chapel of Saint Demetrios in Dali dating to 1317, indicates that the Saint was widely known.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.