September 24, 2020

The Shrine to Saint Thekla in the Venetial Wall of Nicosia

In the Cypriot city of Nicosia, on the south side of the Venetian wall, near the opening of Saint Anthony and next to the Bastion called Pairaktaris (meaning "Bastion Constanta"), there, in earlier years, was a church dedicated to Saint Thekla. It was demolished by the Venetians along with many other temples when they were building the new walls of Nicosia (1567) to counter the Turkish attack. The reverence of the Greek Orthodox Christians of Nicosia to Saint Thekla forced the Venetians to build at the base of the wall, in the place where the Church of Saint Thekla was, a small arch. In the background there is a case with dimensions 0.46 X 0.50 that was used to place the icon. The arch closes with a wooden door that opens only on the day of the celebration of the memory of the Saint (September 23 and 24).

The priests of the Church of Saint Anthony would chant the Service of Saint Thekla in the Church of Saint Anthony on September 23. At the end of the Vespers they took the icon of the Saint and performed a litany, followed by the whole congregation. At the arch they welcomed hundreds of others, who were waiting there for the icon of the Saint for veneration.

The icon of the Saint that is preserved in the Church of Saint Anthony, although undated, looks old. It is a twin, on the left is painted Saint Thekla and on the right the Cypriot Saint Herakleidios, the first bishop of Tamassos, perhaps because both Saints were contemporaries.