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CHURCHES

The Old church of Panagia Chrysopantanassa

The old church of Panagia Chrysopantanassa used to be the main church of Agrokipia until 1990, when the new church, also dedicated to Panagia, was built. The church is located at the north-eastern edge of the centre of the community. 

The church icons reveal that it was built between the years 1700 and 1750 A.D. The myrrh blessing ceremony of the church was conducted by Mr. Philippos, who later on became a monk and died in Agio Oros. However, according to another version, the church was inaugurated at the time it was built. 

It is important for one to know that the interior of the church used to be adorned by a wooden iconostasis which was painted with a golden colour.

The church of Panagia was expanded in 1918, with the expansion works being undertaken by volunteer villagers. After these works were completed, the church building acquired a gothic rhythm. What is also worth mentioning is that during the expansion works, the workers discovered the grave of an old priest, Father Papayiannis, something which made them decide to build the church somewhere else, having, however, the same orientation.

According to another tradition, one of the villagers who participated in these works used to ask for some water while building the roof loudly. His voice was so loud that it could be heard all the way to the neighbouring village of Malounda. This habit of his, as Maria Leonidou remarks, earned him the nickname “Poumpourosavvas”.

In the past, the yard outside the church was used as the community’s cemetery. However, since then the cemetery has been moved and is now located just outside the yard of the church.

 

Source:
Christoulla Nikolaidou  

Chapel of Agios Kournoutas

The relics of the chapel dedicated to Agios Kournoutas are located at a signified location, on the “Kantaros” height. The only relics from the chapel of Agios Kournoutas are some stones scattered all around the height. However, even today, as the president of the community underscores, “the dust from the local stones can still perform miracles”. 

What is worth noting is that the topographical plans of Agrokipia still include the chapel of Agios Kournoutas, while a land expanse of 2000 acres is marked on the map as the area of Agios Kournoutas. 

Cited below are some extracts from what Sotiris Gregoriou wrote about Martyr Agios Kournoutas:

He was born in the city of Konya of Asia Minor around the middle of the 7th century. From a very young age he converted to the Christian Orthodox Faith. He was a monk and was not afraid to teach his faith. After the slaughters and the brutal persecutions by the unfaithful, the Saint managed to reach Cyprus which was then occupied by the Arabs.  

Kournoutas, along with Eliofotos, Pammegistos, Pamfoditis and Panfoutios, progressed to the centre of the island and reached the Monastery of Achera, which is located somewhere between Agrokipia and Menoiko. At the time, the Monastery was full of monks, possessed fertile fields rich in water and had a wealth of food supplies and goods. There, the men were welcomed with open arms, hosted and treated. In time, everybody came to respect Kournoutas, who seized every opportunity he had to share his knowledge and wisdom with all the monks.

He used to go on long walks alone. He would stay away from the Monastery for two or three days without food. During his exits, he discovered a place that he really liked. It was a height from which he could enjoy the view of vast expanses of fertile land in the east and a downhill slope terminating at the peak of a mountain in the west. In the north, he could see the Monastery of Achera and in the south another mountain range of the village of Agrokipia. Kournoutas would sit there for hours and pray.   

He gathered rocks, carried water from the river to make some mud and built a small house. To build the roof, he carried straws which he covered with mud. He lived there as an abstainer for many years, during which time he fed himself only with seeds and mosphilla. He received visitors from the monastery only when they needed his advice…. From the time he built his little house, he visited the Monastery only once and that was when he was told that a monk was suffering from a snake bite wound on his leg that would not heal… The monk could not walk so Kournoutas had to go to the Monastery. Before going to the Monastery, he took a rock that was laying next to his house and smashed it turning it into dust. He then filled a small bag and took it with him. When he was at the Monastery, he asked for some clean water and cotton. He cleaned the wound thoroughly and then he applied the dust he had carried with him all over the wound. He then gave the bag with the dust to the abbot and instructed him to follow the same procedure for the following three days and left for his place of seclusion. After the first night, the wounded monk was no longer suffering from fever. On the second day, a crust started to appear on the surface of the wound while on the third day the crust became dry. On the fourth day, the crust was separated from the leg after it was smoothly pulled, leaving a white healthy mark on the leg. After that, the monk went running to visit Kournoutas so that he could thank him. From then on, when the people living in the Monastery referred to Kournoutas, they called him the “Saint”.

The news spread quickly. People from surrounding villages such as Menoiko, Akaki, Agios Ioannis, Malounda, Klirou, Agrokipia and Mitsero, who suffered from ear, elbow and knee wounds, would ride their donkeys to find Kournoutas and ask him to heal them.  

Placed on a corner of his little house were icons of Christ and Virgin Mary, which he always had with him. In front of the icons he used to place a vigil light which was lit day and night using oil which was supplied from the Monastery. He would also perform a church service alone, while on Sundays people who went to visit him also attended the service. In the end, people started saying that they would go to the chapel of Father Kournoutas.

The kind and bearded Kournoutas never stopped thinking about his home town, Anatolia, and his village, Konya. He always prayed for the Christians of his home place and he would ask God to give him courage. He had a faint memory of his parents as he was only six when they were killed. One night, while he was praying on his knees before going to bed, an Angel from God appeared in front of him and told him that he had to return to Konya at all cost. It was God’s wish to respond to the desperate plead of the remaining and persecuted monks and priests of Konya.     

He started his journey during that very night. He took his stick, a water bottle, went to the Monastery, woke up his friend Panfoutios, told him what had happened and left in a hurry. At noon of the same day he reached the village of Xero. Four boats were there. On the street there were Arabs, Greeks and Turks. Kournoutas spoke Arabic to an Arab man and told him that he wanted to travel to Asia Minor. The Arab man showed him a boat and informed him that it was leaving in half an hour. Once on the boat, Kournoutas met the Arab man again, who introduced himself as a merchant and told him that he came to Cyprus to export carobs, copper and pyrite. He was a very rich man.   

When Halil asked Kournoutas what his profession was, Kournoutas replied with a loud voice: “I preach the Word of the True Triadic God, Christianity”. Halil and the six members of the crew smiled. They themselves were also unfaithful and knew very well what Christians were suffering from their persecutors… Master Halil told him, “We have a 48-hour journey ahead of us. In this time, I want to learn about Faith, Christianity and your God. Kournoutas’ face became bright. With a clear peaceful voice he began talking about God, Virgin Mary, Christ, the Jordan River, Christ’s students, the Love Christ taught, the miracles he performed, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Annunciation. So impressed was everybody that they were extremely anxious to hear more. Three hours before they reached Asia Minor, they were all baptised by Kournoutas. “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. As soon as they reached shore, Halil ordered for a wagon to come and Kournoutas was escorted to Konya. Before he left, Halil gave Kournoutas two small bags full of gold coins so that he could help the victimised Christians. He also told him he had a Greek merchant friend in Konya named Fotinakis and that it would be good to seek protection from him. 

Fotinakis proved incredibly useful. He was Christian and he sent somebody to call the abbot of the Monastery, where Kournoutas was once a monk, as well as the bishop to come to his house. He learned that the Christians were hiding because they were afraid of people who did not believe in God. The church was semi-ruined and a mass could be held there. During a humble service at the church of the Monastery he was ordained and became a Priest. His first concern was to repair the church of Konya. At the same time, he set the foundations for a larger church, the church of Sotiros. He helped the Christians, as well as everybody who was poor, Christian or not. Several people, after witnessing the love and solidarity which existed among Christians and after learning about Christianity believed in it and were baptised. Within ten years, apart from the church of Sotiros, eight more churches in eight different cities were constructed. The number of Christians was rising and an Ecclesiastical School was established. The glory of Orthodoxy was at its peak until Perinios assumed power. He did not believe in God, but worshipped the idolater god Vaal (Sun). Perinios filled the squares with statues and temples and savagely pursued Christians. In the meantime, Priest Kournoutas continued his work. He would go from village to village, from town to town to preach the word of God and perform baptisms.          

One day, at the village of Soursalo and while he was addressing a crowd, an army squadron consisting of horseback soldiers rushed in and started butchering people. Then, the Priest said with a loud voice: “Stop”. The soldiers stopped and everybody went quiet, apart from some wounded people who were moaning in pain. The captain approached the respectful priest, who said: “All those seizing a knife to kill, a knife shall also kill them”, and continued saying: “If you are going to kill somebody, then kill me and let everybody else go”. After hearing Kournoutas talk, the officer admired his courage and ordered that Kournoutas be taken to Perinios. Once Perinios was informed on what had happened, he told Kournoutas that he would declare him priest of god Vaal and had him whipped.   

On the next day Kournoutas was taken to the square, in front of the temple of god Vaal and before a big crowd. Ruler Perinios was standing next to him and told him with a loud voice so that everybody could hear him: “I declare you Priest of god Vaal and I call you to make a sacrifice in his honour”. Upon hearing this, the priest addressed the people with a loud voice: “People of Konya, do you believe in idols? There is only one real God, my God and Saviour. I believe in one God, maker of heaven and earth of all that is seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ….”. But before he could continue, Perinios, furious with Kournoutas, grabbed a sword from one of the guards and decapitated the Saint, who gloriously became a martyr in front of the eyes of both Christians and non-Christians in a square of Konya on 12th September 730 A.D. (beginning of the 8th century).

Our church honours the memory of Holy-martyr Agios Kournoutas on 12th September.

 

Agios Andreas Chapel

 

Source:
Sotiris Gregoriou

 
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