One of the most beautiful and one of the oldest churches in Cyprus is located in Larnaka - ancient Kition. The church of Saint Lazaros is a magnificent stone church, built by Byzantine Emperor Leo VI in the 9th century in exchange for the transfer of the Saint's relic to Constantinople. It was restored in 17th century. Sadly, three domes and the original bell tower were destroyed during the Ottoman rule, nevertheless, the beautiful interior is a perfect showcase of highly unique Catholic, baroque woodcarvings and exceptional gold-plated Orthodox icon artistry. The altar is a masterpiece of wood –carving (dating back to 1773), as well as the bishop’s throne with the icon of St. Lazaros(1734).
This church remains one of the most remarkable examples of Byzantine architecture in Cyprus and the primary place for worship of Saint Lazaros.
Who was Saint Lazaros? St. Lazaros (Eleazar in Hebrew) was from Bethany - a town 3 km east from Jerusalem. He was known as "the friend of Christ". The Bible indicated the Lord's friendly relationship with the whole family of Lazaros and the Lord has enjoyed their hospitality several times.
The Bible also tells about Lazaros being dead for 4 days in a tomb and being raised by Jesus. It was during Christ's last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, where He was going to be crucified. Christ arrived in Bethany four days after the burial of Lazaros and brought him back to life.
Later Lazaros was in danger and was forced to seek refuge in Kition, due to the fact that chief priests had planned to kill him. It is believed that at the time of his escape Lazaros was 33 years old. The Apostles Paul and Barnabas consecrated him as the first bishop of Kition. After his death (second death), he was buried in the place where the church stands now.
There are many traditions associated with Saint Lazaros. According to one of those, after his resurrection he never smiled, 'except on one occasion, when he saw someone stealing a pot, when he smilingly said: “the clay steals the clay”.
Another tradition states that the Salines (salt-lakes) were formerly an immense vineyard. One day the Saint was passing by, and being thirsty, asked the owner for some grapes to quench his thirst, but was refused; and when the Saint pointed to a basket which seemed to be full of grapes, the owner replied that it contained salt. Then the Saint, turned miraculously the immense vineyard into a salt-lake.
It is also believed that virgin Mary came to Cyprus to visit Saint Lazaros. He was very grieved after his flee not being able to see his friend and his mother. Lazaros sent a ship to the Holy Land to bring her, Saint John and other apostles and disciples to Cyprus. Virgin Mary arrived at Kition where She met Lazaros, to whom She presented a bishop’s pallium, woven by Her own hands. Having blessed the local Church of Kition, She returned to the Holy Land.
Nowadays, a procession is held in his honour eight days before Easter every year. During the procession, the icon of Saint Lazaros is carried through the streets of Larnaka (Larnaca).
Visit Byzantine Museum, next to the church, which exhibits important religious icons, artifacts and relics.
March - October:
Monday - Saturday: 08:00 - 18:30
Sundays: 06:30 - 12:30 / 15:30 - 18:30
November - February
Monday - Saturday: 08:00 - 12:30 / 14:30 - 17:30
Sundays: 06:30 - 12:30 / 15:30 - 17:30
Entrance Fee: Free
Disabled Access: 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.