Church of Saint Lazarus – Sightseeing in Larnaca,Cyprus
This amazing Church of Saint Lazarus is located in the heart of the city of Larnaca. Furthermore,history remembers this place since the late 9th century,as part of the Greek Orthodox Church that belongs to the Church of Cyprus. The latest is one of the oldest Eastern Orthodox autocephalous churches. It achieved independence from the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East in 431.
In case you’re wondering ,what is so special of this Church of Saint Lazarus, well I might surprise you. The facts I know about this place came to me,by mistake just 2 weeks ago. Not many tourist, here, know that this Church holds beneath the altar,the actual tomb of “Lazarus of the Four Day” and above all,a lot of history .
Who was Saint Lazarus?
Even if you are not religious you mus of heard of Saint Lazarus,also known as Lazarus of Bethany. He is the subject of the amazing miracle performed by Jesus in the “Gospel of John” . Here,Jesus brings back to life Lazarus,after 4 days of being dead.
According to Orthodox tradition, sometime after the Resurrection of Christ,Lazarus is forced to flee Judea with his family. This happens, due to plots on his life from “the chief priests” (John 12:10-11 NIV). The priests decide to kill him,because they believe Jews are leaving their religion due to the miracle of life performed by Jesus on Lazarus.
So Lazarus,came to Cyprus!
Here Barnabas and Paul the Apostle appoints him as the first Bishop of Kition (present-day Larnaka). They say,he lived here for 30 years more, in which he never smiled,unless when he saw someone stealing a pot; then Lazarus would smile and say “the clay steals the clay”.
After his second death he was buried for the last time in Larnca,Cyprus. Above the tomb of Lazarus,they built Church of Agios Lazaros (Church of Saint Lazarus).
History of The Church
Tradition says that the place of the tomb was lost during the period of Arab rule. Around 890,they find a tomb with the next inscription : “Lazarus, four days dead, friend of Christ”. In 898, Emperor Leo VI of Byzantium transfer the remains of Sain Lazarus to Constantinopole. Furthermore,in the early 13th century,the relics were looted by the Fourth Crusade and were brought to Marseille. Unfortunately, Emperor Leo looses the remains. As a recompense for the translation, The Emperor builds over the Lazarus’ tomb, the church in question.
Also,history tells us that the church went through many changes over the years:
- it becomes Catholic,around 13th to 16th Century (due to the frankish and the Republic of Venice rule)
- in 1571 AD, it becomes a mosque; during this time the original bell tower gets destroyed . Later on,they sell it back to orthodox,possible because of the Christian Cemetery. Both orthodox and Catholic use this church fr their services.
- in 1857, after the Ottoman authorities allows again the Cypriot churches to have bell towers. Due to this,they build the bell in Latinate style .
- 1970 brings a fire that damages most of the interior. Yet the good surprise came when renovating the church: inside the marble sarcophagus under the altar,they identify part of the Saint’s relics. Apparently,not all reached Constantinople.
8 days before Easter,On Lazarus Saturday,the Church takes out the icon of the Saint to the procession through the streets of Larnaca.
In conclusion, My opinion:
I believe that this place comes with it’s own charm. Also,religious or none religious,you should visit church due to it’s place in history.
In case ,you decide to sightseeing through Larnaca, I will leave you with the right information down below. And with this,I bid you fair-well,until next week!
Plateia Agiou Lazarou
Tel: +357 24 652 498
1 Mar-31 Oct:
Sunday 06:30 – 12:30, 15:30-18:30
1 Nov-29 Feb:
Daily: 08:00-12:30, 14:30-17:30
Sunday 06:30 – 12:30, 15:30-17:30
All year round. Closed on all Public Holidays
Entrance ramp, chair lifts for rooms and disabled toilets
Opening and closing times as well as entrance fees, are subject to alterations without notice. Visitors are advised to check before visiting.