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Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Church and Cave of Saint Epiphanios in Ayia Napa of Cyprus

Salamis, where the Basilica of Saint Epiphanios was together with his tomb, was abandoned during the Arab invasions of the seventh century after destruction by Muawiyah I. The inhabitants thus moved to Arsinoƫ (Famagusta). Nearby, outside the village of Ayia Napa, was a cave on a hill associated with Saint Epiphanios, where he did his writing and praying, and there also it is said was an old church built by Saint Epiphanios himself, later dedicated to him. This church was later destroyed, leaving only the foundations.

When the old church was being restored in 1957, wonderworking holy water and the oil lamp of Saint Epiphanios were discovered, both of which were previously unknown. Later, other treasures were discovered in the church from the time of Saint Epiphanios, including the original altar shaped in the form of a leaf. The current chapel was built in 2011 on the foundations of the old church in order to save it. It is a small building with a wooden roof and an apse. The floor is made of glass, in order to be able to see the foundation of the old church.

The new church on the other side of the large cross was built in 2006 and consecrated in 2008. It is single-nave, vaulted, with an apse. The church is completely painted with frescoes and has a beautiful carved iconostasis. Outside the church it is surrounded on three sides by an open portico, which is supported by columns with arches. The walls between the arches has white stone panels with relief crosses. The new chapel is considered one of the most picturesque places of the area, overlooking the Mediterranean, which is why this chapel is used for many wedding ceremonies. From this location there is an excellent panoramic view of Paliochori, a Byzantine settlement which was destroyed during the Arab invasions of 632 to 964 AD.

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