Monastery of Kykkos (Cyprus)
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Revision as of 18:46, June 6, 2010
The Monastery of Kykkos (Greek:Ιερά Μονή Κύκκου), also known as the Monastery of the Mother of God of Kykkos and the Holy, Royal and Stavropegic Monastery of Kykkos, is among the principal monasteries of the Church of Cyprus. At Kykkos, Archbishop Makarios III began his ecclesiastical career.
During the reign of the Eastern Roman emperor Alexius Komnenus I near the turn of the eleventh to twelfth century, the governor of Cyprus, Manuel Boutoumites, moved to the cooler mountain valley of Marathasa to escape the sultry heat of Nicosia. Lost in the forest during a hunt, Boutoumites met the monk Isaiah, and asked Isaiah to show him the way out of the forest. Not interested in the things of this world, Isaiah did not respond to Boutoumites' questions and received in return Boutoumites' anger and abuse.
After his return to Nicosia, Boutoumites became ill with a lethargy. Remembering his ill treatment of the hermit Isaiah, Boutoumites prayed to God for a cure so that he could return to ask personally for forgiveness. While Boutoumites was healed and saw Isaiah again, God had already appeared to Isaiah and advised him that what happened was a divine plan and that Isaiah was to ask of Boutoumites to bring the icon of the Virgin painted by the Apostle Luke to Cyprus. When Isaiah related the divine wish to Boutoumites, he was astonished as the icon was kept in the imperial palace in Constantinople. After the hermit had explained the divine wish they agreed to travel to Constantinople together for the realization of their aim.
In time, by divine dispensation the daughter of the emperor became ill with the same illness that had struck Boutoumites. Grasping the opportunity, Boutoumites approached the emperor and recounted his experience with Isaiah and assured the emperor that his daughter would be cured if the icon was sent to Cyprus. With the emperor's agreement his daughter recovered. But, reluctant to lose the icon, the emperor had an exact copy made, planning to send the copy to Cyprus. That evening the Mother of God appeared to the emperor in a dream and told him it was her wish that the original icon should go to Cyprus and the copy retained in Constantinople.
The following day the original icon set sail to Cyprus. Upon its arrival the icon was taken by Isaiah in procession to the Troodos mountains during which, according to tradition, the trees took part in the welcoming ceremonies by piously bending their trunks and branches as the icon passed. The icon came to be held at Kykkos in a church and monastery that was patronized by emperor Alexius Komnenus.
The Monastery of Kykkos was founded under the patronage of the Eastern Roman emperor Alexius Komnenus I near the close of the eleventh century by the hermit Isaiah to hold the icon of the Mother of God Kykkotissa that had been brought from Constantinople. Through the centuries, the icon brought about many miracles within the monastery and has been the pride and symbol of the salvation of Cyprus.
Isaiah welcomed many to the monastery to become hermits with him. Through the years, the monastery and the monks faced many problems. In 1365, a catastrophic fire burned the main church, a basilica, and with it many documents and relics. The monastery was rebuilt through the help of Queen Eleonora, wife of the Peter I of Cyprus, during the Latin rule of Cyprus.
The monastery again experienced fires in 1541, 1751, and 1813. During each fire the interior decorations of the libraries were destroyed, resulting in loss of much of the early written history of the monastery. Most of that part of the history of the monastery that survived is now in manuscripts residing in a number of European libraries. Recent restoration work that had been on going at themonastery continues under the guidance of the current abbot Fr. Nikiphoros.
The main treasure of Kykkos Monastery is, of course, the icon of the Mother of God Kykkotissa. The icon remains hidden under a protective covering, and is rarely uncovered.
While a few of the icons on the iconostasis of the main church are from the seventeen century, the iconostasis itself dates from the eighteenth century. The frescoes in the main part of the church are of recent origin, painted by the Cypriot painter Gorge Georgiou. The mosaics are the recent work of the Cypriot artist Philippos Kepolas.
The monastery holds a number of gem decorated Russian Gospel Books of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that were gifts from Russia churches and state dignitaries. The library contains some 15,000 printed books and a hundred manuscripts, in Greek, with a few fragments on parchment from the tenth century.