The Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria Theodoros II arrived on Friday from Cairo, Egypt to be present at the funeral of Archbishop Chrysostomos II.
Theodoros II was welcomed at the airport by Kiti Bishop Nektarios and by the representative of the Alexandria Patriarchate in Cyprus Bishop Nitrias Nikodimos.
“It is with great sadness that I arrive today from Alexandria to pay respects and say farewell to the blessed Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II,” he said stepping of the plane.
He added that the day was strange for him, because every other time he has come to Cyprus he would call the archbishop to “hear his warm voice” welcoming him.
“He would say welcome blessed one. You have come home.”
Commenting further, Theodoros said that Archbishop Chrysostomos was a benefactor of the church of Alexandria and that he embraced their church.
“I will remember him as a man that loved the church, loved Orthodoxy, and loved all people,” he said.
The patriarch went to the church of Apostolos Varnavas directly after his arrival, where the archbishop’s body has been laid for public mourning.
Earlier in the day, the religious leaders from all of Cyprus denominations and faiths also went to the archbishopric to sign a book of condolences opened for Chrysostomos II. None made any statements to the media.
The archbishop will be buried under the Apostolos Varnava church, as he wished.
Akel leader Stephanos Stephanou also signed the book earlier in the day.
“Archbishop Chrysostomos II has left a strong imprint for many years, both in the church and in the public sphere of the country,” he said expressing his condolences.
House Speaker Annita Demetriou also signed.
House Speaker Annita Demetriou also signed. She wrote: “”It is with deep emotion and sadness that I bid farewell to the blessed Archbishop Chrysostomos II.”
According to Demetriou, the archbishop was an important moderniser of the Church of Cyprus.
“He affirmed its autocephaly, making the Church of Cyprus strong enough to continue its divine work through the centuries,” she wrote.
President Nicos Anastasiades will be signing the book of condolences on Saturday ahead of the funeral, where he will give a eulogy.
The president will sign at 11:45 am, head to the funeral at noon, and at 2:10 pm he will meet with Greek President Katerina Sakellaroupoulou at the archbishopric.
Later he will meet with Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, who will be in Nicosia for the funeral, while at 3 pm he will attend a lunch for all the foreign dignitaries arriving for the archbishop’s funeral.
Bartholomew is expected to lead Chrysostomos II’s funeral.
His visit signals the side Cyprus has taken on the schism that had developed between Constantinople and the Patriarchate of Moscow over the recognition of the Ukrainian orthodox church as independent.
The top contenders are said to be the bishops of Limassol, Tamassos, Constantia, Morphou, Kyrenia and Karpasia. Other pundits include Bishop of Paphos Georgios, currently the caretaker of the Church of Cyprus.
The three likely candidates to make up the triumvirate will be Limassol, Tamassos, and either Paphos or Constantia.
Tamassos and Limassol are already in a contest to try and secure the votes of the Russian orthodox community in Cyprus, as they have better relations than others with the Moscow Patriarchate.