May 19, 2021

Synaxis of the Holy Five Bishops of Chytroi (Kythrea)

Chytroi (Kythrea) is a region in Northern Cyprus. The Diocese of Chytroi was established in the fourth century. The city thrived because of the great source of water, Kefalovrysos, part of which was transported, by way of an aqueduct, to Salamis, the capital of Cyprus. The rest of the water irrigated the area, making it a source of wealth. The first Bishop of Chytroi was Saint Pappos. We know very little about the Diocese of Chytroi. In the town of Kythrea, the successor to Chytroi, five bishops - Pappos (24 October), Athanasios (17 May), Photinos (2 August), Spyridon (19 September) and Demetrianos (6 November) - were honored as Saints. On the 17th of May, the Synaxis of all five of them together is celebrated, which was established in 2018 by Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus.

Regarding the first Bishop of Chytroi, Saint Pappos the Confessor, we have no information regarding his early life. He was ordained Bishop in 309, and is called "Confessor" because he was tortured and imprisoned for his faith in Christ during the Roman persecution, but survived. Very much respected by his flock and other bishops due to his life and old age, for this reason in 367 he was chosen to succeed as Bishop of Salamis, which essentially meant being Archbishop of Cyprus, having already served as Bishop of Chytroi for 58 years. Saint Pappos withdrew, prayed fervently on this matter, and heard a voice from heaven direct him in the course he should take. Thus, accompanied by two bishops and three deacons, he went to the marketplace of Salamis, where he found the monk Epiphanios buying grapes, accompanied by two other monks. Epiphanios was from Palestine, became a monk in Egypt, founded a monastery in Palestine, then came to Cyprus, where he visited Saint Hilarion the Great, who lived in asceticism near the village of Episkopi in Paphos. Epiphanios was preparing to leave Cyprus, when Saint Pappos told him to put the grapes down and accompany him to the church, where Epiphanios was ordained Bishop of Salamis. Although Saint Epiphanios protested this ordination, Saint Pappos informed him that it was a divine command, to which he must be obedient. Saint Pappos reposed in deep old age.

Chapels to Saint Pappos existed in the villages of Trypimeni and Agios Sergios of the province of Famagusta, where there is a location known as Ais-Pappos. The many destructions suffered by that part of Kythrea did not allow the preservation of information about the existence of the churches dedicated to him.

Saint Athanasios was a relative of Saint Pappos. Saint Pappos, seeing the gifts of Athanasios even in his youth, took care for his spiritual training and education and hired him as his assistant. After the repose of Saint Pappos, he became Bishop of Chytroi. He systematically reacted against heresies, healed the sick, and wrote the life of Saint John Chrysostom and other texts. He reposed in peace. His chapel was in the village of Trypimeni.

Saint Photinos was Bishop of Chytroi in the fifth century. He was one of the 650 Holy Fathers that signed the minutes of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod that had gathered on October 8, 451 in Chalcedon to condemn Monophysitism. In the Greek text of the minutes of the Synod the name of the Saint is recorded, in the Latin text of the minutes it is mentioned that they were signed on his behalf by Deacon Dionysios. He reposed in peace.

Saint Spyridon was Bishop of Chytroi in the eighth century. He participated as a member of the seven-member delegation of the Church of Cyprus at the Seventh Ecumenical Synod, which took place in Nicaea from 14 September to 13 October in 787 to condemn Iconoclasm. He reposed in peace.

Saint Demetrianos was born in the village of Syka of Kythrea in the middle of the ninth century. His father was a priest and he was raised in the "education and admonition of the Lord", helping his father in church while receiving an education. Having married a virtuous young woman when he was sixteen, the marriage did not last long, since she died after three months. After this, the Saint decided to dedicate his life to the Lord as a monk, entering the Monastery of Saint Anthony in Pentadaktylos near Kythrea. There he quickly made great progress in the spiritual life, and served the monastery as a beekeeper and herb gatherer. God found him worthy to receive the grace to work miracles, and many flocked to him in search of healing.

Bishop Eustratios of Chytroi ordained Demetrianos a priest and made him the economos of the diocese. When Eustathios became Archbishop of Cyprus, he chose Demetrianos as his successor in Chytroi. To avoid his ordination, Demetrianos left and hid in a cave, but the grace of God revealed where he was hiding to those who sought him.

Thus Demetrianos was ordained Bishop of Chytroi and faithfully and diligently attended to his flock till his deep old age. Then great calamity found Cyprus. Between the Roman Empire and the Arabs, Cyprus was agreed to be neutral and not to be used by any of the two for war purposes. When the admiral of the Arabs found out that Admiral Himerios of the Roman Empire had been stationed for refueling in Cyprus, that is to say, for something for which the Cypriots were not to blame, he went against Cyprus, plundering and destroying, and took thousands of people prisoner, among whom were many from the Diocese of Chytroi (Kythrea). Despite being in his late 70's, Demetrianos followed his flock to Baghdad, where he constantly appealed to the Caliph to free the prisoners, who were not to blame for the actions of Himerios. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Saint Nicholas I Mystikos, also appealed by letter to the Caliph on behalf of the young Roman Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (913-959) to settle the matter peacefully. Because neither the Roman Empire nor the Arabs wanted to start a new war, the matter was settled peacefully and the prisoners were released and the spoils were returned. Demetrianos recommended that the inhabitants of Chytroi change the location of their city and reside along the path of Kefalovrysos, so that the new settlement would not be easily visible from the raids that would arrive on the coast of Cyprus.

Demetrianos reposed in deep old age, and afterwards a church was built dedicated to him in his beloved city where his was buried. Other sacred shrines were built in his honor throughout Cyprus, such as Palaikythro, Omorphita, Agios Demetrianos in the province of Paphos, Larnaca of Lapithos, Flassos, Kourio, Agios Amvrosios in Keryneia and Lakatameia. In Kythrea and in its wider region there are various traditions regarding their beloved bishop.
The relics of Saint Demetrianos are located at the Church of Panagia Evangelistria in Pallouriotiss.