Cyprus Passion

In Cyprus, 78% of the total population of Cypriots are Christian. Greek Cypriots predominantly follow the Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus (commonly known as the Church of Cyprus). Other forms of Christianity include the Armenian Church in Cyprus, Maronite, Roman Catholicism, and Protestant. The Majority of Turkish Cypriots belong to the Islamic faith and comprise 18% of the total population. Additional religions are present (although minimal) and combined comprise less than 4%, including Hinduism, Judaism and other minority religions. There are also non-religious communities however minimal compared with the aforementioned.

Profitis Elias

The Orthodox Church of Cyprus has been the dominant religious institution in Cyprus for centuries. Christianity was introduced in 45 CE by Paul the Apostle. The Apostle founded the Church of Cyprus, making it one of the oldest independent churches in the world. In modern-day Cyprus, the Orthodox Church continues to be influential in the culture, politics and daily life of the country. Many institutions and services continue to be sponsored by the church and the church also has various influence in government decision making. The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus provides freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right, in practice towards its citizens.

Cypriot people are mostly relaxed in the practice of their faith. Religion influences many people’s sense of morality and their practice of cultural customs. However, one’s faith is a personal matter, and many religious activities are undertaken at home privately. Regular church or mosque attendance is still common among elderly Cypriots. However, fewer people among the younger generation believe in God. Often, members of the older generation take it upon themselves to organise the religious duties of other family members.

Almost all Greek Cypriots embrace Orthodoxy as an element of national belonging, even if they do not practise their religion regularly. In Cyprus there are many churches or monasteries throughout every town or village. Each one is devoted to a different Saint or to the Virgin Mary. Most Cypriots attend Church during festivities such as Christmas, Easter, weddings, christenings, funerals or on Sundays. Many of the churches and monasteries were established in ancient times and are still visited today.

The Troodos mountain region of Cyprus contains one of the largest groups of churches and monasteries (the most popular being Kykkos Monastery) of the former Byzantine Empire.  They hold such historical and artistic significance that UNESCO has classified them as World Heritage Sites. The structures date between the 11th and 17th Century and bear testimony to the variety of artistic influences affecting Cyprus over a period of 500 years. Adorned in hand-painted murals these structures showcase Byzantine art of the highest quality.

Saint Lazarus church

We must not also forget the unoccupied Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries on the north of the island. Forcibly abandoned after the 1974 Turkish invasion. One such building is the beautiful Apostolos Andreas Monastery, in Rizokarpaso, situated in the northern most point of Cyprus. Each church and monastery in Cyprus has a unique history and is important to the people of the area or village in which it resides.

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