North Cyprus  

 Nestorian Church (of St George the Exiler)

Nestorian Church (of St George the Exiler) - Famagusta, N.CyprusThe Nestorians or Chaldeans originally came from Syria. They used the Chaldean language in their liturgy. The Nestorian Church was only one of several Semitic churches that had separated from Greek Orthodoxy in the 5th century over the contentious issue of the mixture of God and man in the person of Jesus. They are now represented by the Assyrians of Iraq (Mesopotamia).

Wealthy Syrian Christian traders occupied the high land in the north-west corner of the medieval old town of Famagusta. In 1359 during the reign of King Pierre I, the fabulously wealthy Francis Lachas and his brother began work on a church for their fellow Syrians of the Nestorian Church. The result is surprisingly modest for this pair of brothers, whose daughters wore jewellery richer than that of the kings of France. It began as a single-aisled chapel, which was then doubled in size, a porch tacked onto the central nave and courtyards added to taste. This organic growth contrasts with the neat triple apse of the east end and the clean lines of the belfry fašade with its pair of lancet windows.

The interior retains only patches of its once rich and diverse frescoes, which were accompanied by Syriac script. Other peculiar features include the variegated stones of the altar arch and the Romanesque zigzag decoration cut into the arch of the original courtyard gate. It is tempting to see this as a deliberate archaic reference to the architecture common in the old Crusader states of Palestine.

The church now serves as the Cultural Centre of the Eastern Mediterranean University. In Famagusta, Church Services are held in the Nestorian Church. Services take place every Sunday at 5.0 pm, with a Communion Service on the 4th Sunday every month.


From: Rogerson, B., Cyprus, Cadogan.