Iconocastis at St Barnabas Monastery

Cyprus is known as the ‘Island of Saints’ for a good reason. Hundreds of saints often recognized by both the Eastern and Western Apostolic churches have either gone to the island, were born there, and many are buried there. Barnabas was Cypriot; he and Saul began the First Missionary Journey in Salamis, attended by John Mark. Lazarus fled Bethany for Cyprus as did many terrified Christians after the martyrdom of Stephen. Constantine’s mother, Helena, brought fragments of the true cross to Cyprus.

Paul challenged Elymus and performed his first miracle on the island. Barnabas and Paul converted the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. Paul was whipped at a pillar in front of a ancient synagogue; all this happened in Paphos on the western coast. Lazarus was ordained by the missionaries as the first bishop of Kition (Larnaca) according to Cypriot tradition. It is even believed that Mary, the mother of Jesus and Martha went to Cyprus to visit her brother Lazarus. Lazarus and Barnabas are both buried on the island.

Because the most eastern island of the Mediterranean exported copper and was a major trading and commercial point of the Roman Empire with flourishing ports and protected harbors, catching a boat to or from the island was never a problem. Many early Christians found refuge, traveled through, and visited this Island of Saints.

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