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History of Church of Paphos
The Church of Paphos was founded in 46 A.D. by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas. Paphos was the island’s capital then and seat of the roman proconsul. Here in Paphos the first official roman governor embraced Christianity. He was Proconsul Sergios Paul. This was not an event, important only for Cyprus but for all history and civilization of all mankind.
It is the beginning of the spread of Christianity around the world characterized as the first dynamic and triumphant victory of Christianity in the higher ranks of the Roman society.
The missionary work of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas was continued by Saint Heracledios and then Bishop Epafras who was ordained by saint Heracledios on orders from the Apostle Paul. Having the assistance of Barnabas contributed to the spread and consolidation of Christianity in Paphos.
During the first three Christian centuries, there is no written information about the church of Paphos, or generally for the Church of Cyprus.
From 330 A.D. Cyprus belongs to the Byzantine state, whose official religion is Christian, and by the end of the 4th century the predominance of Christianity is final.
Saint Kyriaki Church
Until the earthquakes of 332 and 342 that destroyed Paphos the Bishop of Paphos seems to perform metropolitan tasks because Paphos was the Capital. After the destructive earthquakes of the 4th century Salamina replaced Paphos as cathedral and the Bishop of Salamina was promoted to Metropolitan.
The Church of Cyprus participated in all struggles against heresy and was represented in all the Ecumenical Councils.
Bishop of Paphos Cyrille or Kyriakos participated in the first Ecumenical Council in Nice at 325. Bishop of Paphos Ioulios participated to the second Ecumenical Council that took place in Constantinople at 381. Bishop of Paphos Saprikios participated in the third Ecumenical Council in Efesos at 431 that condemned Nestorius and confirmed the Autocephalous of the Church of Cyprus.
In 653 Paphos was conquered by the Arabs and underwent several hardships. The residents were evicted from their homes and the two great basilicas of Paphos, Saint Kyriaki and Panagia Limeniotissa were converted into stables and living quarters of the army. In 680 Arabs left from Paphos and the residents returned and rebuilt the basilicas that were destroyed and also built other churches. The city of Paphos began to expand to the East and the Christian religion continued in the centuries that followed although there is no written information about the church of Paphos then.
The Frankish period follows the Byzantine, from 1192 until 1570, with severe consequences for the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. In 1191 Cyprus was conquered by the English King Richard Lionheart that sold Cyprus first to the heretic templars and the next year to the fallen Frankish King of Jerusalem Guy De Lusignan who established the Frankish Kingdom of Cyprus.
Along with the Frankish Kingdom the Latin Church was established too. The Assets of the Orthodox Church were taken and efforts of the Latin Church to submit the Orthodox Church began. In 1260 Pope Alexander the 4th with the <<Bulla Cypria>> abolished the Orthodox Archbishop and reduced the number of the orthodox bishops to 4, in Nicosia, Famagusta, Limassol and Paphos. At the same time the 4 Bishops were expelled from their headquarters and were taken by the Latin Hierarchy. The seat of the Bishop of Nicosia was designated to Solea, Famagusta to Karpasia, Limassol to Lefkara and Paphos to Arsinoe (the current town of Polis Chrysochous).
Arsinoe was previously a separate seat of a Bishop but was abolished in 1260 and incorporated in the Diocese of Paphos. The Pope appointed as the first Bishop of Arsinoe Nilos. For those years we don’t have a lot of information about the functions of the Orthodox Church of Paphos.
Orthodox Bishops of Cyprus were forced to participate to the Latin’s Church Councils but without active participation and the new elected Orthodox Bishops were forced to give a vow of submission to the Latin Bishop of Paphos according to the <<Bulla Cypria>> of Pope Alexander.
In 1570 the Turks invaded Cyprus. Wanting to achieve a peaceful occupation of the island, they restored the Autocephalous Church of Cyprus. The number of Dioceses,
In addition to the Archdiocese, which were gradually named metropolis were limited to three.
From the second half of 17th century finally the Archdiocese and the Dioceses of Paphos, Kiti and Kerynia were established.
The individual Bishops of Paphos with the Archbishop and other Hierarchs of the Dioceses took an ethnic role and were fighting for survival and liberation of the people of Cyprus.
In 1609 and 1617 the Bishop of Paphos Leontios signed with the other Bishops the letter that Archbishop Christodoulos sent to the King of Spain Philippe the 3rd and to the duke of Savia asking for the liberation of Cyprus from the Turkish conquerors.
In 1765 Bishop of Paphos Chrysanthos with Archbishop Paisios and Bishop of Kerynia Chrysantho went to Constantinople to ask for financial help and for the suppression of the Turkish riots.
In 1767 Bishop Chrysanthos of Paphos took the seat of Archbishop and arranged for the reconstruction of: the church of the monastery of panagia chrysorogiatissa, the Church of Saint Demetrios of Nikoklia, the monastery of Saint Neophytos.
The successor of Chrysanthos at the throne of Paphos was Panaretos, who was distinguished for his holiness and civil participation. Along with other Bishops Panaretos accompanied the Archbishop to Constantinople in 1783 where they eventually managed the withdrawal of the Turkish tyrant governor of Cyprus Chatzimpakki. In 1790 Panaretos died and in 1794 the Patriarch of Constantinople Gerasimos the 3rd declared him a Saint.
After Saint Panaretos Sofronios was elected and after him came Chrysanthos. The Bishop of Paphos Chrysanthos was slaughtered, at 9th of July 1821 with Archbishop Kyprianos, the other Bishops, Abbots, Priests and Monks, from Kutsuk Mexmet.
Hierarchs sent from the Patriarch of Antioch ordained a new Archbishop and metropolitans. Bishop of Paphos was ordained Panaretos who was Archdeacon of Chrysanthos that was slaughtered. In 1827 Bishop of Paphos Panaretos was placed Archbishop after the dismissal and exile of Archbishop Damaskinos.
Chariton the Abbot of the monastery of Chrysorogiatissa was placed to the throne of Paphos. After the death of Chariton Archimandrite Lavrentios was ordained Bishop of Paphos and he stayed until 1869. Lavrentios managed to release the Paphos Church from huge debts.
The successor of Lavrentios was Neophytos who arranged for the establishment and operation of schools in Paphos and strengthened the Greek schools in Nicosia. In 1888 he resigned for health reasons. The throne remained empty until 1890 that Epifanios was ordained. He followed the example of Bishop Neophytos and worked for better schools until 1899 that he died. For 11 years the throne was empty.
In 7of March 1910 Iakovos Antzoulatos was ordained Bishop of Paphos. He came from Patmos, a Greek island. He developed significant action in all sectors, religious, national, educational.
The Turkish occupation ended in 1878 with the hiring of Cyprus to the British.
This announcement was greeted with joy by the people and the church, but their hopes were quickly lost. In 1925 the English Government declared Cyprus as a Colony. The people realized that the English were trying to establish and consolidate their dominion of the island. The Church took the lead again in the fight for liberation.
In 1930 Leontios was ordained Bishop of Paphos. In 1933 after the death of Archbishop Cyrillos because the Bishops of Kerynia and Kiti (Makarios and Nikodimos) were exiled since 1931 from the British, Leontios had to take control of the Archbishopric throne. He dedicated all his time so that the Greek schools would operate like it used to, by keeping the British influence out of schools and he kept fighting for liberation. Due to his strong resistance and the response of the clergy and people the British didn’t succeed to destroy the Church of Cyprus and the Greek Nation.In 1946 he went to Athens and London to ask for the union of Cyprus with Greece. In 1947 he was elected Archbishop but he died 36 days later on July 26 1947.
With the participation of Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, firstly the Bishop of Kerynia Makarios was elected and enthroned Archbishop and then in 1948 were ordained Bishops: the Abbot of Kykkos Kleopas in Paphos, Makarios Kykkotis in Kiti and Kyprianos in Kerynia. In 1950 Archbishop Makarios the 2nd died and Makarios of Kiti was elected in the Archbishop throne.
The Bishop of Paphos Kleopas died in 1951 and Fotios succeeded him. The Church of Paphos, after Leontios, had many problems to face. Financially was collapsing and after the destructions that happened by the earthquakes of 1953 the citizens of Paphos were in despair and asked for support. Citizens of Paphos wouldn’t accept Fotios as their Bishop and he couldn’t support them like he should and he abandoned Paphos in 1956. In 1959 he returned to claim the throne but citizens reacted and obligated him to resign.
After Fotios resignation Gennadios was elected Metropolitan at the age of 66 in 1959. Gennadios was an undecided man and he couldn’t stand up to the duties of being a Bishop of Paphos. Gennadios was misled by other clericals and politicians and with them were planning a conspiracy against Archbishop Makarios and the Cyprus Government. Gennadios was thrown from his throne in 1972 and in 1973 was degradated.
The raise of Chrysostomos the 2nd on the throne of Paphos at February 1978 was the beginning of a fertile period in many sectors in the church and city of Paphos. A lot of interest was given in religious, educational, financial and national matters. He managed to make a big financial resurrection to the Church of Paphos with many investments made not only for the good or wealth of the Church but also for the city. Many families were given jobs because of the actions of Metropolitan Chrysostomos the 2nd. He reconstructed and built innumerable Churches in Paphos. With the approval of the Holy Synod he reestablished the historical bishopric of Arsinoe in 1996 and placed Bishop Georgios. He established and operated a Youth Center with free services to all children.
Metropolitan Chrysostomos the 2nd was elected in February 2006 to be the next Archbishop of Cyprus.
In 29th of December 2006 Bishop Georgios of Arsinoe was elected by the Holy Synod to be the next Metropolitan of Paphos, seat he holds until today. Bishop of Paphos Georgios is faithfully following the significant work that Archbishop Chrysostomos was doing.