The entrance to the church

The chapel over the grave


Barnabas is a Cypriot saint . He has been greatly venerated by the island's inhabitants since the 5th. century , because he is regarded as the founder and patron saint of its autocephalous church . Parts of his mortal remains which had been found at that time in Salamis and called for the separation of Cyprus from the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Antioch are now in Kykkos and Machairas . According to the New Testament, Barnabas did not belong to the closer group around Christ , but to the 70 disciples . In the early period of Christianity , all the missionaries who spread the message of Jesus among nations were called apostles . This explains the high number of 70 which only later in the course of the canonising of faith was fixed at twelve again . Barnabas' death as a martyr in about 57 AD is commemorated on 11 June ; he is one of the saints in the Synaxarion , the calendar of saints in Constantinople . On his feast day , a synaxis (the equivalent in the Catholic church is a mass) was held in St. Peter's near the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople . Barnabas is also included in the ecclesiastical calendar of the Western Church .

Four and a half centuries after the death of Barnabas the Archbishop of Cyprus , Anthemios , founded the church near Salamis with the financial support of the Byzantine Emperor Zeno and some wealthy dignitaries . It is a basilica with two domes . The architecture is like that of St. Epiphanios in Salamis and St. Lazarus in Larnaca . The only difference lies in the fact that St. Lazarus still has all three domes , whereas the eastern dome of St. Barnabas was destroyed . The tambours of the domes each have 16 windows . Earlier the church had three doors only in the west wall . The present entry arrangement and the windows were constructed in 1916 . In the same year , a building was added on the east side . The apse also dates from a later period . The first renovation of the church was begun in 1674 under Archbishop Hilarion Kigalas and completed in 1740 at the time of Archbishop Philotheos .

There are hardly any written sources on the history of the church . In 1735 , the Russian monk Basil Grigorovich Barsky visited the monastery ; the entire collection of icons was stolen in the 17th. and 18th. centuries . After the Turkish invasion in 1974 , the monastic community was forcibly expelled and the church plundered . Near the church there used to be a well from which pilgrims drew holy water . Alongside was to be found the saint's grave and fragments of frescoes . Originally , the saint was buried in the apse of the basilica which the Cypriot Archbishop Anthemios had had erected for this purpose . This church was still standing when Basil Grigorovich Barsky visited the monastery . Nowadays a small chapel of more recent date stands above the crypt with the grave ; swallows nest in its deserted interior .

Portraits of Barnabas are preserved in at least nine churches in Cyprus , including earliest layer in Asinou (1105-1106) and the frescoes of Lagoudera . Both in Asinou and in the pictorial programme in Pera Chorio , which also dates back to the 12th. century , Barnabas and Epiphanios are portrayed below at the middle of the apse .