SCY326 : Politiko Ayios Iraklidhios

monastery

Grid reference: 522250/3876050
Cadastral plan: XXX/58

Tradition claims that the Christian apostle Paul travelled to the island in 46 AD, accompanied by Barnabas, a former Jew from Salamis, and his cousin John Mark. They landed at the town of Lapithos on the northwestern coast of the island and guided by a man from Tamassos, Herakleidios, they crossed the Troodos Mountains to reach the city of Paphos. Herakleidios became the bishop of Tamassos, and first taught from a small cave with the assistance of his friend Mnason. He converted people and performed many miraculous deeds, including healing sick people and the raising of the dead, throughout the Troodos region. He became a martyr when pagans killed him at the age of sixty. Mnason succeeded him as bishop of Tamassos. It was as bishop of Tamassos that Mnason performed one of his great miracles, the destruction of the temple of Asklepios.

The monastery of Saint Herakleidios was constructed in the fifth century AD. Destroyed by the Arab invasions of 806, it was rebuilt later in the ninth century and again in the fifteenth century. The present church, which is situated in the remains of a ninth century basilica, contains the bones of Herakleidios as well as the sarcophagus of St. Mnason. The monastery also contains an unusual mausoleum constructed in the fourteenth century. In the mausoleum, which is part of the Ayia Trias Chapel, lie the sarcophagi of Saint Herakleidios and Saint Mnason. The opus sectile floor of the mausoleum includes hexagonal marble tiles dated to the sixth century. A trapdoor leads to an underground tomb that tradition holds to be the original burial location for Saint Herakleidios.