Church of Panagia Chrysaifiliotissa

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In one of Limassol’s largest parishes, with approximately 25,000 residents, stands an impressive church which owes its name to the area’s history. The Agias Fylaxeos area is associated with a particular name attributed to the Virgin Mary many centuries ago.

The history of the Virgin Mary of Agias Fylaxeos or Holy Fylaxeos (the word ‘Fylaxeos’ comes from the Greek word which means ‘to guard or protect’) dates back to the time when the island was under the rule of Isaac Komninos (1184-1191), who created coins depicting the Virgin protecting him. The idea that the Virgin Mary shelters and protects Christians was thus strongly ingrained in the consciousness of the locals of the area. According to tradition, the Virgin, Agia Fylaxis, protected the community from being looted by Turks or other foreign invaders.

The present church of Panagia Chrysaifiliotissa is located in the center of the Agia Fyla parish. It was erected in 1968 by the Metropolitan of Kiti Anthimos, and is dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, celebrated on 21 November. It is one of the largest churches in Cyprus. It is a 5-domed church with elements of Byzantine, Gothic, and Romanesque architecture. The old church of Agia Fylaxeos, which is no longer in existence, once stood very near to where the new church is now located.

The icon of the Virgin, the so-called ‘Agia Fylaxis,’ dates back to the 16th century. The Virgin is depicted holding Child Jesus in the Byzantine iconographic style of ‘hodegetria,’ or ‘she who shows the way.’ The Child Jesus is turned towards his mother, with his right hand raised in a blessing gesture and in his left, holding a rolled up scroll.