Rich Christian Heritage
The history of Christianity in Cyprus has a long and great tradition. Christian commitment was very strong in Cyprus from the very beginning. Its origins are linked to four important persons: the Apostles Paul, Barnabas and Mark, who came to the island at the beginning of their first missionary journey converting the people of Cyprus to Christianity and founding the Church of Cyprus, and St. Lazarus, who was Bishop of Kition and for 30 years preached and converted the Gentiles in Cyprus. They were crucial figures in the development of Christianity on the island, but they were not the only ones. Early Christianity left behind some saints, like St. Auxibius, Bishop of Soli, Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, Spyridon, Bishop of Trimythous, monk Hilarion, and Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great.
Cyprus has played an integral part in early Christian History, though the events of the first 400 years are often overlooked. Few people know that Christianity reached Cyprus before Barnabas and Paul arrived or that both Barnabas and Lazarus are buried here. Paul performed his first miracle and received his name in Paphos. Eustolios of Kourion was one of the first to openly dedicate his home to Christ. Cyprus was the "Chittim" of the Old Testament (Numbers 24:24). The Greek colonists gave it the name of Kypros, from the cyprus, i.e., the henna, which grew on this island. It was originally inhabited by Phoenicians. In B.C. 477 it fell under the dominion of the Greeks; and became a Roman province B.C. 58. In ancient times it was a center of great commercial activity. Oil, corn and wine were produced here with the greatest perfection. It was also rich in timber and mineral wealth. It is first mentioned in the New Testament (Acts 4:36) as the native place of Barnabas. It was the location of the Apostle Paul's first missionary trips (13:4-13) when he, Barnabas and John Mark were sent forth by the church of Antioch. It was later visited by Barnabas and Mark alone (15:39). Mnason, an "early disciple," most probably one of the converts from the day of Pentecost belonging to this island, is mentioned in (Acts 21:16). It is also mentioned in connection with the voyages of Paul (Acts 21:3 ; 27:4).