Ayia Thekla, one of the most iconic chapels of Cyprus

This modern white and blue building is located on the coast and is open to the public. The church has a very interesting iconostasis and an icon of the highly revered Cypriot saints: St. Justina and St. Cyprian.The church is surrounded by an observation deck and a rest spot. If you walk down the steps you will reach the sea. If you look to the right of the church you will see an island that visually resembles a coral reef.

Nearby are the ruins of an early Christian basilica that has unfortunately been largely damaged. On Spirits Day (The Cataclysm) the area is used for religious service and a cross procession. The Ayia Thekla catacombs are located to the west of the chapel and belong to the Roman period (30 – 330 BC). They catacombs are a church that has been carved out inside a cliff. Researchers say that the area was most likely once used as a burial site, which in the Middle Byzantine period was turned into a church (mid 7th – 12th century). The church also witnessed the Frankish period (1192 – 1489). Inside the underground chapel, the candles are always lit.

The life of St. Thekla is equally interesting. According to a legend, Thekla was engaged to be married, but after being inspired by the Apostle Paul she decided to give up her plans for marriage and went on to preach. Her parents were outraged by her decision and had her captured by the authorities to have her burnt in order to teach other young women a lesson. However, a storm broke and the rain put out the flame. Thekla had miraculously escaped death on another occasions when she was thrown into a lion’s den. The animals stood back and she later became a hermit living a cave close to the city of Ma’loula in Syria. She dedicated her entire life (90 years) to constant prayer and fasting. With time the monastery that she founded also became her burial site, where part of her remains were kept until 2014 when the monastery was raided and 16 nuns were held hostage.

The rest of her remains that were kept in the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia were relocated to Cyprus following the Mamluks’ conquest of the kingdom (1375).

Presently the remains are kept at the women’s monastery of St. Thekla located near Mosfiloti village (Larnaca region).

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