Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Church of Agios Lazarus, Larnaca

Lazarus of Bethany was a devoted follower of Jesus. The Gospel according
to John gives an account of a miracle. On hearing of Lazarus's illness, Jesus
travelled to Bethany only to find that he had died and had already been
entombed for four days. John tells us that "Jesus Wept"; the origin of that
expression. Jesus is said to have visited the tomb and ordered the entrance to be opened. After a prayer, he called upon Lazarus who came out still
wrapped in his burial cloth. This resurrection caused anger amongst Jewish priests as it increased Jesus's following.

According to Greek Orthodox tradition, Lazarus was forced to flee to Cyprus
where he was appointed Bishop of Kition (present day Larnaca) by Paul and Barnabas. He was to live on the island for a further thirty years. The Church of St. Lazarus was built on the site of his burial and the tomb is to be seen in the crypt.

Another tomb claimed to be that of Lazarus is to be found in Palestine. The
site has long been occupied by a Mosque although Roman Catholic and
Greek churches have been built alongside.

The Byzantine Church in Larnaca was founded in the 9th century. For some
time during Venetian rule, this became a Roman Catholic place of worship and then under the Osmanli Empire, it was converted into a mosque. It was sold back in the late 16th century to the Orthodox Church who shared it with the Roman Catholics. Outside the church are monastic buildings and cells. The latter were sometimes rented to tradesmen and craftsmen. The buildings also house a museum.

A watercolour painting by David Easton

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