On Sunday, 10 May 2015, the Office of the Armenian Community Representative, Vartkes Mahdessian, in co-operation with the Armenian Prelature of Cyprus, organised the eighth annual visit-pilgrimage to the Sourp Magar Monastery (Magaravank), Gibrahayer EMagazine reports.
The first time was on 6 May 2007, when the Armenian-Cypriot community visited the occupied Armenian Monastery after 33 years. According to the Representative’s Office, around 100 Armenian-Cypriots visited the Monastery on Sunday, some of whom came especially from abroad.
The monastery was founded around the year 1000 AD by Copts and by 1425 it had been inherited by the Armenians. Dedicated to Saint Makarios the Hermit of Alexandria, it is located on the eastern part of Turkish-occupied Pentadhaktylos at an altitude of 530 metres and a small distance from Halevga, within the Plataniotissa forest. Its vast land (about 8.500 donums), includes 30.000 olive and carob trees, extends up to the sea and is characterised as picturesque and idyllic. The Taurus mountain range in Cilicia, which is right opposite, is visible from the Monastery.
The Armenian Monastery had for centuries been a popular pilgrimage for Armenians and non-Armenians alike, a place of rest for Catholicoi (Patriarchs) and other Armenian clergymen from Cilicia and Jerusalem, as well as a centre of attraction for local and foreign travellers and pilgrims en route to the Holy Land. The monastery was also used as a summer resort, where Armenian scouts and students would camp, including students of the Melkonian Educational Institute, many of whom were orphans of the Armenian Genocide. A large number of exquisite and priceless manuscripts (dating back to 1202-1740), as well as many other ecclesiastical relics, were housed there. Fortunately, in 1947 some of them were saved when they were relocated to the “Cilicia” Museum of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia.
The Magaravank is the only Armenian monastery in Cyprus and together with the recently-restored cathedral of the Virgin Mary in occupied Nicosia, is the most important Armenian ecclesiastical monument on our island. It was occupied in August 1974 during the Turkish invasion and ever since it remains abandoned and ruined, left at the mercy of nature. Efforts are jointly made by the Representative and the Prelature to restore it to its former glory, while the Antiquities Department is going to declare it very soon an ancient monument.