Ayia Napa Monastery
Cyprus, Ayia Napa / Aya Napa

The exact date of construction of the Ayia Napa Monastery is unknown. There is a legend according to which a local hunter found in the forest cave an ancient icon of the Virgin Mary, apparently hidden in it in the 7th or 8th century, during the period of iconoclasm. Having heard about the find, pilgrims began to visit the holy place. In 1366, a small church was erected on the site of the cave, and a monastery was founded in the 15th century. Another legend is associated with the history of the foundation of the monastery. It speaks of the daughter of wealthy Venetians who escaped from her home because of her parents' disagreement to pass her off as a commoner. The girl decided to become a nun and settle in that very cave. Later, her parents built a church, monastery cells and a Latin chapel. On the north side of the monastery courtyard there is a fountain in the shape of the head of a wild boar, immediately behind it is a two-story building in which the girl initially lived. At the other end of the monastery courtyard still grows a tree planted by a girl, and there is a gazebo built at her request. The monastery safely survived the time of Ottoman rule in Cyprus. Unlike many churches and monasteries, Ayia Napa Monastery was not destroyed. The description of the monastery, made in 1625 by the Italian traveler Pietro della Valle, which is fully consistent with its current appearance, has been preserved. In 1625 the monastery was female, in 1668 - male, and in 1758, for some unknown reason, the monks left the monastery. A monastery was built in a deserted area, far from the habitats of people. But in the middle of the XVIII century, several families arrived here from the Greek city of Thessaloniki, who left their home because of the plague. They became the first settlers in the area of modern Ayia Napa. In 1813, the monastery building was renovated and passed into the possession of the city community. Since 1878, the monastery became a parish church. In order to preserve the historic building, in 1950, the monastery carried out restoration work, and in 1978 - 2006, conferences were held in it with the participation of Christian Churches of the Middle East. In 2007, the monastery passed under the control of the diocese, it houses the Academy of Culture of St. Epiphanius and the church museum. Childless couples and women visit the monastery to ask the Virgin Mary for mercy and divine help in fulfilling the desire to have a child.

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