By Stefanos Evripidou
THE GOOD Friday Service to be held today at the Ayios Giorgos Exoronis church in Famagusta, the first in over half a century, is attracting plaudits and interest from home and abroad.
Mayor-in-exile Alexis Galanos told state broadcaster CyBC yesterday that foreign ambassadors would be joining worshippers planning to attend the service, whose numbers are swelling by the day, while the European Commission and academics from across the divide welcomed the move.
According to Galanos, an estimated 4,000 people will attend the service, creating a bit of an issue with regards to parking.
Following complaints from certain quarters of the Turkish Cypriot community, and given the huge interest in attending the service, it was decided not to hold the procession of the Epitaph through the streets of the walled city, instead limiting it to the area around the church, and reducing the time slot from 45 minutes to 25 minutes, said Galanos.
“It is not easy to go very far. The church has a capacity of 200-250. This means a few thousand will be around the church, in the parking.
“The issue we’re facing is where to put the cars because the usual place for parking will be flooded by faithful,” he said.
Twenty-five buses carrying an estimated 1,400 people will go to Famagusta, while the remainder are expected in their private vehicles.
“It’s a lot of people. Yes, we’ll live historic moments… in a church operating for the first time after 57 years. It means a lot of things to people. There are people coming from London and Athens just for Good Friday, but to a degree there will also be some inconvenience at the same time,” he warned.
EU Education and Culture Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou released a statement yesterday noting that the Famagusta Good Friday service sends a “symbolic message of reconciliation”.
The Cypriot Commissioner will be among an expected 4,000 worshippers at the event.
“This is a positive and symbolic message of reconciliation for Cyprus. The agreement to hold the service is a good example of the progress that can be achieved through cultural and religious dialogue.
“Everyone associated with organising the event should be proud of themselves. They are not only sending an important message to fellow Cypriots but also to the international community about our commitment to peace and reconciliation,” said Vassiliou.
The bicommunal Cyprus Academic Dialogue (CAD) group also released a statement strongly supporting the religious service to be held in the medieval town.
“Apart from the religious devoutness that the church service will offer to the believers, the event itself constitutes a significant step in the way of fostering understanding and acceptance of the ‘other’; a necessary condition for the preparation and endurance of the settlement that will reunite Cyprus,” said CAD head Nicos Anastasiou.