The Kykkos Monastery, dedicated to the Virgin of Kykkos, is the most famous and rich active Cypriot monastery. Founded high on the northwest face of the Troödos Mountains around end 11th century by a Byzantine Emperor, it carries a potpourri of tales of intrigue, deceit, visions, miracles, and unshakeable faith. It’s most important possession is an icon of the Virgin Mary reputedly painted by Luke the Evangelist. The Virgin’s face is veiled and never revealed. People from all over the world come to the Monastery to the miracle-working Mother of God, asking Her to cure them of some illness or grant them the strength to cope with life’s trials and personal and family problems. They also seek blessings from the relics of the numerous Saints in the Museum, like St. Stefanos, Helena, Lazarus, Barnabas, Aristobulus, Epiphanius and Matrena.
- The icon was brought to Cyprus from Constantinople by an upright hermit called Esaias (Isaiah) who lived in a cave on the mountain of Kykkos, the mountain it rests on today. Esaias cured Manuel Boutomites, the Byzantine governor of the island, of an otherwise incurable disease (reportedly Sciatica) and asked for the icon of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary), then in possession of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I in Constantinople. Though Boutomites went to Constantinople, he stopped short of asking for the icon. Through divine intervention, the Emperor’s daughter was struck down by the same disease that Esaias had cured Boutomites of. Esaias once again came to the rescue and directly demanded the icon as his fees. The Emperor stooped to chicanery to thwart Esaias, but was reprimanded by Theotokos herself in a vision, who said that it was her wish that the icon be taken back to Cyprus. This is how the icon came to Esias and to the Troödos. And that is why Kykkos Monastery features in all VIP tours in Cyprus.
- Apparently, during the procession towards the Troödos Mountains, even the trees bent their branches in piety. A church and a monastery were erected with funds sent by Emperor Alexios in order to house the icon of the Virgin. The full name of the monastery is ‘The Holy, Royal and Stavropegic Monastery of the Virgin of Kykkos’ and a great site to see in any tour in Cyprus.
- It houses numerous mosaics and frescoes depicting biblical events and miracles. The church is filled with votive offerings attesting to the Virgin’s miracles. There are more than fifty valuable heirlooms in the church; its Baptism Hall has been converted to a Vestry open to the public. It houses a notable collection of silver and gilt reliquaries holding the relics of many saints.
- The valuable heirlooms kept in the church include crosses, portable icons, a wooden antimension, encolpia, gospels ornamented with precious stones, silver ciboria, silver and gold ecclesiastical utensils (disks, chalices, etc), episcopal mitres, belts and vestments, silver
tabernacles, oil-lamps, and chandeliers, holy relics and other objects.
- The miraculous icon of the Theotokos is on the iconostasis, among other icons. Painted by Apostle Luke, it is now covered with a silver-gilt ‘shirt’, encrusted with precious and semi-precious gems, under a delicate hand-embroidered cloth. A must see place on a religious tour.
- The first president of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III, who served as a novice in this monastery with the name Michael Mouskos, lies entombed at the Throni hill top, three kilometers to the west of the monastery. This place boosts tourism in Cyprus.