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Cyprus

All ready for Famagusta service on Good Friday

Ayios Georgios Exorinos

By Staff Reporter

MORE than 3,000 people are expected to attend the Good Friday service at the Ayios Giorgios Exorinos church in Famagusta, the first such mass since 1957.

Famagusta Bishop Vassilis, who will perform the historic ceremony, in statements to the Cyprus News Agency yesterday, called it a miracle.

“At the moment there would seem to be problems and we hope that all will go well,” he said, adding that more than 3,000 people were expected to attend the procession and Epitaphios service, which will last around two and a half hours. The church can take only 250 people, so most people will have to remain outside and listen to the service by means of loudspeakers.

The bishop said the last service had been held there in 1957, the same year the priest at the time was forced to flee the area with a few church belongings and icons due to hostilities.

“I wish and hope that this time everything will go well, not only for the service but also that a solution will be found so that Famagusta can come alive again,” said the bishop.

“The desire of people to return is so great that it is truly remarkable but I would personally prefer to avoid giving the issue any political dimensions,” he added.

He was likely referring to the current diplomatic push to have Varosha, the fenced off ghost-town in Famagusta, returned to the Greek Cypriot side as a confidence-building measure, something President Nicos Anastasiades says would boost the current Cyprus talks.

The service will be televised, not only locally but also on European and other international stations, the bishop said.

He said the church would be open from 10am and the main service would begin at 5pm.

A 15-member committee has been appointed to deal with Friday’s service and any that may follow at the church. Buses will be operating from all main towns.

From Limassol, buses will start at the Ayios Giorgios Havouzas at 2.30pm, from Nicosia at the Cyprus Handicraft Centre at 3pm, from Larnaca buses will leave at 3.30pm from the main fire station, and from Paralimni from the Church of Ayios Giorgios at 4pm.

Full details will be announced by Famagusta Mayor Alexis Galanos at a news conference tomorrow.

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