Latins of Cyprus
A Historical Survey
The Franciscans have been in Cyprus since the beginning of their Order. Indeed, we may assume that St Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), their founder, passed through Cyprus in his voyage to the Holy Places. On June 24th, 1219, Francis set sail from Ancona, Italy, and voyaged until St John of Acre (today, Akko), northern town of Palestine and then to Damietta, Egypt. In those times, ships were mostly coast vessels. From Ancona then, to reach the coasts of Palestine a ship would touch at ports along the coasts of Italy, Greece, around the Peloponnese peninsula, Crete, the Cyclades Islands, the coasts of Anatolia, maybe the island of Rhodes, Cyprus, and finally Acre.
It is believed that St Francis stopped in Cyprus for some time and saw this beautiful island. In our Church in Kyrenia, there is a small carved marble which represents St Francis and some of his brothers disembarking at the harbour. One thing is certain, that the Franciscans were in Cyprus when Francis was still alive. During the Lusignan and Venetian periods, the Franciscans, together with the Poor Clares, the Second Order founded by St Francis, established several friaries and churches, until the year 1571, when the island fell into the hands of the Turks. In that year they lied away with all the other Orders (Dominicans, Augustinians, Cistercians, etc.) In the year 1593, the Franciscans came back and, we believe, they established themselves on the same spot where we are now. In 1642 they built here the first, church dedicated to the Holy Cross, which functioned until the end of the 19th century.
The Latin Catholic Church of Cyprus has four parishes, which belong to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Click here to read more: http://www.cypruscatholicchurch.org
Latins of Cyprus
This publication provides a basic overview, an introductory outline about the Latins of Cyprus, their history and culture as well as their contribution in Cyprus society at large. It is part of a series prepared by the Press and Information Office in close collaboration with the Representatives of the three religious groups, the Armenians, the Latins and the Maronites, in the House of Representatives.
The Franciscans in Cyprus
The Custody of the Holy Land is delighted to offer these pages, prepared for the visit of pope Benedict XVI (4th-6th June 2010) to those who, on the occasion of Pope Francis' visit to Cyprus (2-4 December 2021) are interested to know more about the Franciscan presence on the third largest island in the Mediterranean.
The Friars Minor put themselves at the service of the local faithful and pilgrims sailing to the Holy Land, making Cyprus a bridge between Europe and the Middle East from the lifetime of their founder, St. Francis, in the 13th century.
Today the friars on Cyprus are mainly at the service of the Catholic community of the Latin rite (the Maronite Catholics benefit from the pastoral assistance of their own clergy) which has been under the jurisdiction of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem since 1847, when the Holy See re-established that Patriarchate.
There are only about ten Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land on the island today. They are entrusted with the three historical parishes Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol. The fourth Latin parish was erected by the Patriarch Michel Sabbah in 1992 in Paphos and is entrusted to the fathers of the Institute of the Incarnate Word in the service of the Latin Patriarchate.
The religious of the Custody also run the Terra Santa College, founded as a boys’ school in the capital in 1646. They perform regular liturgical services in some additional chapels in tourist resorts along the coast. It is worth mentioning in this regard that on Sundays a priest also celebrates Mass in Kyrenia, Famagosta and in northern Nicosia which, together with one-third of the island, has been under the control of the Turkish army since 1974.