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THE CHURCH AND MONASTERY OF ST. (SAINT) BARNABAS

 

The Church  and  Monastery of St.  (Saint)  Barnabas  are situated  at  the  western  edge  of  the  Salamis  necropolis. Information about the personality and work of Saint Barnabas comes from historical sources. Born in Salamis, Saint Barnabas was the son of a Jewish family. Having completed his education in Juresalem, he returned to Cyprus and, in the year 45 A.D., He began work with Saint Paul to spread Christianity. As a result of these activities, he was killed by fellow Jews and his body was hidden in marshland later to be dumped into the sea by night. A number of Barnabas followers who witnessed the incident secretly took the body away and buried it together with the St. Mathews bible which Barnabas used to carry in a cave under a carob tree to the west of Salamis. The Jews learnt about what had happened and chased the followers until they lost sight of them at the Paraskevi Caves near Nicosia. The followers escaped to Egypt by way of the Karavostasi port. The where about of the burial site (or grave) remained unknown for a long time as no one in Cyprus knew of the place of burial after a lapse of 432 years the burial site was revealed to bishop Anthemios in a dream.

He ordered the opening of the grave. The Saint Mathews bible found in the grave was proof that the remains was that of St. Barnabas. The bishop took the remains to Istanbul and presented it emperor Zeno. Upon this, the emporor declared the autonomy of the Cyprus Church and donated money for the building of a Monastery at the burial site.   The Monastery was built in 477 A.D. The building got its present structure in 1756 on the orders of Archbishop Philotheos (during Ottoman rule).  After the 1974 Peace Operation, the Monastery and Church remained operational through the services of three brother priests. In 1976 however, the three brother priests moved to the South because of old age and illness. The place was preserved and protected in its original form and opened to visits. Various icons, wall paintings and other items were displayed in the Church within the Monastery precincts.

The Department of Antiquities and Museums began restoration work of the Monastery and the Church in August 1991. The Church, having been restored has been turned into a more comprehensive Icon Museum with the addition of new icons 1992. The rooms of the Monastery have been re-arranged into an Archaeological Museum and the rooms at the entrance have been assigned as the administrative section. In addition, the inner yard has been paved with stone and re-arranged.


 

Northern Cyprus Department of Antiquities and Museums Directorate