The restored Church of Ayia Marina, located in the north in Ayia Marina Skyllouras, in the Nicosia district, was handed over on Thursday to the Maronite Church, almost a year after the bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage started conservation works on the site.
A large crowd attended the completion ceremony, and as the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus Joseph Soueif entered the packed church, all started to sing a psalm in Aramaic with him.
Former village residents and members of the Church Committee, ambassadors from EU member states, representatives of the UN and the EU and other people attended the ceremony in the 14th century church, dedicated to the village’s patron Saint.
After the bells began to ring the ceremony started, with officials expressing messages of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence, as well as the desire of many to return. As Takis Hadjidemetriou, the Greek Cypriot member of the Technical Committee put it, “what we are looking at today seems like an impossible dream”.
He referred to the various difficulties the Technical Committee encountered while embarking on this project and recalled the moment that they got the message “you may proceed”.
This work is the result of what we can achieve by overcoming obstacles when we work together, he said. These monuments with their deep roots in history ask for our protection and love and “awaken the prospect of return,” Hadjidemetriou added.
Ali Tuncay, the Turkish Cypriot member of the Technical Committee referred to the village’s shared history, as it was inhabited both by Maronite Christians and Turkish Cypriots who lived together for centuries.
“The Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage advocates that we can be effective only when we work and produce results together,” he said. He also wished this spirit of cooperation to multiply in other areas as well, for the benefit of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.
Ioannis Karis, a Maronite member of the Technical Committee said that this is “a historic day for the Maronite community and Church and especially for the Ayia Marina community”.