Blessing at Syngrasis

Blessing at Syngrasis

The village of Syngrasis is a small village in the part of Cyprus occupied by the Turkish army, it has been given a Turkish name Sinirustu, however the people of the Republic of Cyprus and its former residents still refer to it by its traditional name.

This little village has six Churches, most of them derelict, but this one is just about standing. It is very neglected, it has been vandalised, inside, there is a large wall mural dating back to the 12th century, it is of Saint Prokopios, the patron saint of the church. His eyes have been gouged out, it has been scratched, but most of it remains. There are Bird’s nests inside and even though it has been cleaned, it stands as a sad relic to years of not only neglect, but years of outright contempt. Outside, all the Tombstones have been smashed, this was not just an act of military intervention, it was hostility at its very worst.

My friend Tina and her partner John, decided to have a blessing at the church, which is only allowed to be used one day a year, the actual patron saint’s name day.So a few of us, privileged close friends, were invited to make the journey through the checkpoint in Nicosia, along the central plains, to the solitude of the little village. Just outside the village, there is an enormous map of Cyprus (upside down) mapped out with Cypress trees. It can only really be seen from above. 

When we arrived at the Church, there was Turkish police present, one of the conditions when permission is granted to use the church on that one day, is that NO ICONS are brought over. The police are watching out for them, but they are also there to keep  the peace in case there is any inter-communal tension. The service had ended just as we got there and the blessing was over in a few minutes, so in that short time, I tried to take a few photos, but there was much more that I could have captured if I had time to wander around alone, maybe another time.

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