Rizokarpaso: The occupied Agios Synesios is celebrating

Who was Saint Synesios, Bishop of Karpasia

photo 15 exclusive, Agios Synesios, Rizokarpaso

He celebrates today Agios Synesios, bishop of Karpasia and the church that bears his name in occupied Rizokarpasos.

Η church of Agios Synesios is located in the center of the village Rizocarpason. A monument of significant historical value, the eastern part of the church dates back to the 12th century AD, but also a point of reference for Rizokarpasites everywhere. After the Turkish invasion the monument was damaged and the maintenance work by the Technical Committee for Cultural Heritage was completed on November 28, 2022.

The project was implemented with the financial assistance of the Church of Cyprus, while a smaller part of the cost was covered by the European Commission. The responsibility for the implementation of the project was assumed by UNDP.

The Church has internal dimensions of 18,50X9 m today. However, its current form is due to the expansion of the church to the west around the end of the 19th century, during the reign of Archbishop of Cyprus Sofroniou. Today the church of Agios Synesios consists of two consecutive inscribed cruciform churches with a dome. The original church is the eastern part and originally had dimensions of approximately 9X9 m. Both the central arch and the north arch are semi-circular both internally and externally. The southern arch was demolished at the beginning of the 20th century to build the bell tower.

The dome of the original church is cylindrical and has four windows at the four points of the horizon. It rests on the junction of the arches of the cross which are semi-cylindrical. Four strong piers support the arches and the dome in the center of the church. Both on the north and south walls of the church there are blind arches that break the monotony of the outer surfaces of the walls, as in the church of Agios Filonos on the beach of Rizokarpasos. The apses are decorated with blind arches like the apses of the church of Agios Filonos and Agios Barnabas and Hilarionos in Peristerona. The present window in the center of the arch is newer, as are the other windows in the church. The morphological elements of the church support its dating to the 12th century. When the west part of the church was added to the west in the late 19th century, the west wall of the church was demolished, the original south door closed and another opened in the south-west compartment of the original church. Then all three windows of the central arch were bricked up and the large rectangular window was opened and the original stonework was covered externally with plaster. There are no frescoes preserved in the interior.

The iconostasis and the icons of the church were built in more recent years.

Saint Synesios

Local saint of Karpasia and bishop, of an unspecified time, but probably of the early Byzantine period. He is one of the saints who are especially revered in Karpasia, where he is commemorated together with them Friends and Thyrsos ή Therisso. At Rizocarpason the main church is dedicated to Saint Synesios.

The memory of the holy Synesis is honored by the Church on May 26. The saint is ignored by the synaxarists, but not by the chronographers. Leontios Macheiras (Chronicle, par. 30), writes:

Philo, Synesius, and Sosikratus, bishop of Karpasaia.

Synesius, as bishop of Carpasia, is also mentioned by Strambaldi and Fl. Boustron.

Bio of Saint Synesios was written by the Karpasite monk Akakios (17th-18th century), drawing from a manuscript 300 years older.

According to the little information and ecclesiastical tradition, Saint Synesios succeeded Saint Philon on the episcopal throne of Karpasia. But this is considered possible only because no intermediate name of another bishop is mentioned by the chronologists. Saint Synesios is said to have fought hard, but also with gentleness and sweetness of words, against the various sects that existed in Cyprus during the Byzantine years. He also had a virtuous and philanthropic life. In Karpasia in particular he is considered a miracle worker, and local tradition mentions many miracles and healings of patients by the saint. In Rizokarpason, near the church of Agios Synesis, there is a large carved cave, which seems to have been used as a catacomb during the early Christian years, known as the cave of Agios Synesis.

The apolytikion of the saint admits Synesius as a hierarch and miracle worker:

Of Karpassion the cleos and of Cypriots the cry and miracle worker appeared, hierarch of our father Synesius...

If we accept as incomplete the list of the first bishops of Karpasia given by Leontios Macheiras (ie: Philon, Synesius, Sosikratis), and knowing from the Life of Saint Epiphanius the Great that the first bishop of Karpasia was Philon who was ordained by the saint himself Epiphanius shortly before 382 AD, then we can estimate that his successor Synesius flourished in the early 5th AD. century.

With information from Polygnosis encyclopedia