Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Saint Paul's Pillar

Saint Paul's Pillar is situated near the Agia Kyriaki Church, Panagia Chrysopolitissa Basilica Ruins, and the Gothic Church Ruins, in the city of Kato Paphos, within the Paphos district of Cyprus.

The Agia Kryiaki Church was built around 1500 AD, and the Anglican Church of Paphos utilizes this church building today.  The Agia Kryiaki Church was built on and next to the ancient ruins of the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Basilica and the Gothic Church.  However, the ruins of both these ancient churches are difficult to differentiate, since the ancient ruins are situated very close together.

The Panagia Chrysopolitissa Basilica (also known as the Early Christian Basilica of Panagia Chrysopolitissa) is considered the largest Byzantine basilica in Cyprus.  It was originally built in the 4th century AD with seven aisles, but it was reduced to five aisles during the 6th century.  Mosaics covered the entire basilica floor, yet there are only a few mosaics still preserved throughout today's ancient ruins.  During the 7th century, the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Basilica was destroyed and remains in ruins still today.

The Gothic Church, also now in ruins, was built around 1300 AD on the north side of the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Basilica.  During the Ottoman rule of Cyprus, this Gothic Church was converted into a mosque.  Eventually, the church turned mosque was destroyed in the 16th century.

Within the courtyard of these ancient ruins and the Ayia Kyriaki Church, there's a sign that marks the spot where the King of Denmark died in 1103, while visiting Cyprus.  According to the sign, "Eric Ejegod, King of Denmark (1095-1103).  In Pafos was buried Eric Ejegod King of Denmark who died suddenly on his way to the Holy Land."

The Ayia Kyriaki Church with the surrounding ancient ruins is commonly called the church by Saint Paul's Pillar, since the pillar (formerly an ancient column) is situated within the church's courtyard.

According to historical tradition, shortly before the Roman Governor Sergius Paulus converted to Christianity he commanded Saint Paul to be tied to this column and beaten.  Paul was flogged at this pillar for preaching Christianity.  Later, the Roman Proconsul converted to Christianity, and Cyprus is considered the first country to be governed by a Christian.

During one of his missionary journeys, Paul visited Paphos, which was the capital of Cyprus, around 45 AD.  After first landing in Salamis (which is currently located in Northern Cyprus and will be featured in an upcoming blog post), Paul, along with Barnabas and John, entered the city of Paphos through one of the town gates (or entrances).

It's believed that Paul and company entered through the northern gate, located near Fabrica Hill, which will be featured in an upcoming blog post.  Later, Paul left Paphos by ship from the Paphos Harbor, and there's another sign posted about Paul near the Paphos Harbor and Paphos Fort, which will be featured in upcoming blog posts.

Acts 13:4-13, which shares about Paul and Barnabas' missionary journey to Cyprus, states, "The two of them [Paul and Barnabas], sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.  When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues.  John was with them as their helper.  They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos.  There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus.  The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God.  But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith.  Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 'You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right!  You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery.  Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?  Now the hand of the Lord is against you.  You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.'  Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand.  When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.  From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem."

The Saint Paul's Pillar Archaeological Site is a lovely area to explore, especially with the ancient ruins of the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Basilica and Gothic Church.

Site: Saint Paul's Pillar, Agia Kyriaki Church, Panagia Chrysopolitissa Basilica Ruins, and Gothic Church Ruins. 

Category: Archaeological Site and Church. 

Location: Within the city of Kato Paphos, within the Paphos district of Cyprus. 

Phone Number: 26303217, 26952486, and 99539144. 

Operating Hours: 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Monday to Sunday, during winter months.   8:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Monday to Sunday, during summer months.

Entrance Fee: Free. 

Date of Visit: 2008 and 2011.

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