HERITAGE: Book reveals secrets of ‘oldest surviving church’ in Cyprus

A book launch about the Ayia Paraskevi church in Yeroskipou is expected to reveal some interesting secrets about the story surrounding the 8th century shrine, its structure and architectural design, with the building itself considered as the oldest surviving and best-preserved church in Cyprus.

The scientific book, an initiative of the Paphos Bishopric, is the work of Byzantinologists Andreas Foulias and Christodoulos Hadjichristodoulou and will be presented at the Yeroskipou municipal hall on Friday, June 7 at 7.30pm., by former Byzantine Archaeology and Art professor Demetrios Triantafyllopoulos of the University of Cyprus.

According to the authors of the book, the publication of the scientific guide about the unique five-domed Byzantine-era church aims to protect, promote and educate the public about all historical monuments in the area.

The church itself, at first believed by archaeologists to have been built on the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite, but later disproved, was initially dedicated to the Holy Cross and later to the Christian martyr of the second century Ayia Paraskevi.

This is also why the Paphos town of Yeroskipou was twinned with the Athens municipality of Ayia Paraskevi in 1998.

Some of the interesting discoveries recorded by Foulias and Christodoulou in their book include the archaeological, architectural and art findings, a tomb (arcosolium) in the sanctuary, a stone with a cross used as a foundation stone (stavropigion) and middle byzantine inscriptions that refer to hymns related to the Holy Cross, as well as little known frescoes and other wall paintings, some dating back to the Early Christian period.

Also presented in the book are furnishings that have survived through the ages, icons, sacred vessels, manuscripts, and ancient texts.

The multi-structure and additions to the church have made it very popular to tourists and photographers as the exterior resembles the church of Ayios Varnavas and Ilarionas in Peristerona and to a lesser degree the churches of Apostle Varnavas near Salamina and Ayios Lazaros in Larnaca.

Source: The Financial Mirror