Metropolis of Paphos
Christianity was brought to Paphos on the island of Cyprus by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas in the year 46. At the time Paphos was the capital of the Roman government of the island, of which the Proconsul Sergius Paul, who embraced Christianity, was the governor. The missionary work of the Apostles was continued by St. Heracledios and then Bishop Epafras whom Heracledios had ordained at the direction of Apostle Paul.
There is little or no written records of church life in Paphos, or on Cyprus, during the first three centuries. After earthquakes in 332 and 342 destroyed Paphos, the civil government and cathedra were moved to Salamina. By the end of the fourth century, Paphos had revived with the construction of the basilicas of St. Kyriaki and Panagia Limeniottissa. The bishops of Paphos, Cyril, Ioulios, and Saprikios respectively, participated in the councils at Nicea in 325, Constantinople in 381, and Ephesus in 431. At the third council in 431 the autocephaly of the Church of Cyprus was confirmed.
In 653, life on Cyprus worsened as the island fell to the control of muslim Arabs. The population of the island were evicted from their homes and the cathedrals of Paphos were turned into stables and barracks. After emperor Justinian II and caliph Abd al-Malik reached an accommodation over the rule of Cyprus in the 680s, Christian life in Paphos revived, the residents returned, and the churches were rebuilt.
Little is recorded of the religious life over the centuries in Paphos until the arrival of Frankish Latin forces in 1191. With the establishment of the Frankish kingdom of Cyprus under the Frankish King of Jerusalem, Guy De Lusignan, the Orthodox Church was forced to submit to the Latin Church. In 1260, Pope Alexander IV signed the "Bulla Cypria" that abolished the Orthodox Archbishop see of Cyprus and reduced the number of the orthodox bishops to the four in Nicosia, Famagusta, Limassol, and Paphos. At the same time the ruling bishops were expelled from their sees which were then taken by Latin hierarchs. The seats of the Orthodox bishops were then moved: Bishop of Nicosia to Solea, Famagusta to Karpasia, Limassol to Lefkara and Paphos to Arsinoe (currently the town of Polis Chrysochous).
Little is known of the Orthodox bishops of Arsinoe during the years of Latin domination other than the bishops were compelled to make vows of submission to the Latin Bishop of Paphos.
In 1570, the Ottoman Turks expelled the Latins from the island and restored to the Orthodox the Church of Cyprus as a measure to achieve a peaceful occupation. By mid seventeenth century, the Diocese of Paphos, as well as the Archdiocese of Cyprus and the Dioceses of Kiti and Kerynia were restored. Under Turkish rule the dioceses gradually took on an ethnic rule of being champions of the people of Cyprus over that of the invaders. The bishops of Paphos often joined with the archbishop and other bishops of Cyprus in actions of defense of the faithful of Cyprus. In 1609 and 1617, Bp. Leontois joined in an appeal to Philippe III of Spain asking assistance in liberating them from the Turks. In 1765, Bp. Chrysanthos joined Abp. Paisios and Bp. Chrysanthos of Kerynia for financial help and intervention to suppress Turkish riots.
In 1783, Bp. Panaretos and Abp. Chrysanthos, traveling to Constantinople, were able to obtain the dismissal of the tyranical Turkish governor Chatzimpakki of Cyprus. After his death in 1790, Patr. Gerasimos III led the glorification of Bp. Panaretos as a saint in 1794.
St. Panaretos' successor, Bp. Chrysanthos with Abp. Kyprianos and other clergy and monastics of Cyprus were hanged on July 9, 1821 by the Ottoman governor Kucuk Mehnet following the Greek uprising in Cyprus. After the murder of all the hierarchs, the patriarch of Antioch sent hierarchs to consecrate a new hierarchy for the Cyprus. Among the consecrations, Panaretos II, the archdeacon of the slain Bp. Chrysanthos, was consecrated to the Paphos cathedra and, in 1827, was elected archbishop of Cyprus.
Succeeding Bp. Panaretos II as Bishop of Paphos were Abbot Chariton of the Monastery of Chrysorogiatissa and then Archimandrite Lavrentios, who was able to free the Metropolis of Paphos of its heavy debt. Bp. Neophytos succeeded Bp. Lavrentios after his repose in 1869. Bp. Neophytos strengthened the Greek school systems in both Paphos and Nicosia before he retired in 1888 due to poor health. During the episcopate of Bp. Neophytos control of Cyprus passed to Great Britain under a leasing arrangement with Turkey. However, under British rule the hopes of the Cypriots were not fulfilled as the British treated the island as a colony. After Bp. Neophytos' death the see remained vacant until the consecration of Bp. Epifanios as bishop of Paphos in 1890. He continued the effort to improve the schools until his repose in 1899, after which the see was vacant for eleven years until the consecration of Bp. Iakovos Antzoulatos as the bishop of Paphos on March 7, 1910.
After the British formally declared Cyprus a colony in 1925, the Cypriot resistance to the British rule turned to a fight for liberation. In 1930, Bp. Leontios was consecrated Bishop of Paphos, but in 1933, the responsibility of the position of archbishop fell to him with the death of Abp. Cyril, as the other bishops, Makarios of Kerynia and Nikodimos of Kiti, had been forced into exile by the British in 1931. For the next sixteen years, Bp. Leontios, as locum tenens, maintained, with the help of the clergy and people, a strong resistance to British control and kept the Church of Cyprus together. His dedication to the school system kept it out of the influence of the British.
In June 1947, Bp. Leontios was elected Archbishop of Cyprus, but he reposed only 36 days later on July 26, 1947. Having been through troubles caused by World War II, the Metropolis of Paphos, at the repose of Bp. Leontios, was financially near collapse, a condition that only became worse with the earthquakes of 1953. The post war decades became an era of chaos in the Metropolis of Paphos.
In 1948, Abbot Kleopas of Kykkos was consecrated Bishop of Paphos and held the position until his death in 1951. His successor, Bp. Photios was unable to engage the support of the people through the tribulations of the post war and natural disasters and abandoned the cathedra of Paphos in 1956. He returned in 1959 and attempted to regain the see but was rejected by the people of Paphos and was forced to resign. After his resignation, Gennadios was elected Metropolitan in 1959, but he was unfit for the political challenges that were to come. He was misled into the conspiracy against Archbishop Makarios III and the Government of Cyprus, resulting in his removal as bishop of Paphos in 1972 and deposition in 1973. In the meantime through negotiations among Great Britain, Greece, and Turkey, Cyprus was granted independence in 1960.
In July 1973, Bp. Chrysostomos of Constantia was installed as Bishop of Paphos and subsequently was elected, in 1977, as Chrysostomos I, Archbishop of Cyprus. On February 25, 1978, Abbot Chrysostomos of the Monastery of St. Neophytos was elected Metropolitan of Paphos. Bp. Chrysostomos II led a renaissance in the Metropolis of Paphos, invigorating all sectors of the church as well as the city of Paphos. He put the finances of the church in order with investments that improved the economy of both the church and city. He initiated a program of restoring old churches as well as construction of new ones.
In 1996, with the approval of the Holy Synod Bp. Chrysostomos reestablished historic Arsinoe as a titular see to which Bishop Georgios was assigned. In February 2006, Bp. Chrysostomos was elected Archbishop of Cyprus as Chrysostomos II, replacing the ailing Abp. Chrysostomos I. On December 29, 2006, Bp. Georgios of Arsinoi was elected by the Holy Synod to the see of Paphos.
- Heracledios 46 after Apostle Paul
- Bishop Epafras
- Bishop Cyril or Kyriakos c.325
- Bishop Ioulios c.381
- Bishop Saprikios c.431
- Bishop Leontios c.1609 - 1617
- Bishop Chrysanthos c.1765 - 1767
- St. Panaretos 1767 - 1790 died
- Sofronios 1790 - ?
- Bishop Chrysanthos ? - 1821 martyred
- Bishop Panaretos II ? - 1827 archbishop of Cyprus
- Chariton ? died
- Lavrentios ? -1869
- Neophytos 1869 - 1888 resigned-health
- Vacant 1888 - 1890
- Epifanios 1890 - 1899 died
- Vacant 1899 - 1910
- Iakovos Antzoulatos March 7, 1910 - ?
- Leontios 1930 - 1947 archbishop of Cyprus
- Kleopas 1948 - 1951 died
- Photios 1951 - 1959 resigned
- Gennadios 1959 - 1972 deposed
- Chrysostomos II February 1973 - 2006 archbishop of Cyprus
- Georgios 2006 - present