In Cyprus the 11th of June is a national holiday for it is the feast of Saint Barnabas. Schools close for the day and many people go to church to honor the great Saint and Apostle of Christ. Saint Barnabas is considered to be the founder of the Church of Cyprus.
Saint Barnabas was from Cyprus and his grave is on the island. Today it can be found in the Turkish occupied territory where only recently pilgrims were allowed to visit.
In the summer of 2013 we made our own pilgrimage to this historic place. The Holy Monastery of Saint Barnabas is near the ancient city of Salamis. Hundreds of people flocked to this abandoned monastery which has been void of monastic life for almost 40 years. Currently, the Monastery is used as a museum from which the Turkish authorities gain revenue.
Presiding over the service was his Eminence Basilios of Konstantia who lived as a monk here until 1974 when the Turkish invasion occured. While for some this is an archeological site, for others it is a place of deep worship and intense nostalgia. Many of the pilgrims were from villages near the monastery and would have come to this monastery when they were growing up. At the end of the Divine Liturgy a procession was made to the small chapel above the Saint’s tomb.
“The great glory of Cyprus, the preacher of the world, the first amongst the Antiochians, the architect of Christian calling, the renowned pioneer of Rome, and the divine hauler of the nations, the vessel of grace, the kinsman of the Holy Spirit, the traveling companion of the holy and great Apostle Paul, first amongst the Seventy, equal to the Twelve. Let us all the faithful piously come together and crown Barnabas with hymns for he intercedes with Christ to have mercy upon our souls.”
Video produced by Efstratios Papageorgiou