The Limassol monastery that was was linked to leprosy in Cyprus

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The Monastery of Panagia Trooditissa is one of the oldest in Cyprus. According to tradition, at around 787 A.D., a monk who fled to Cyprus during the Iconoclastic period settled in a cave, which is known to this day as the 'Cave of Trooditissa.' 

The same tradition attributes the discovery of the cave 200 years later by a shepherd who appears to have been drawn to the area by the glow of a candle burning in front of the icon of the Virgin within the cave. And so, the decision was made to establish a monastery there dedicated to the Virgin. The monastery was completely destroyed in 1585 and rebuilt from scratch. 

In addition to the legends and traditions behind the construction of the monastery, there is also an unknown page from Cyprus's history that is associated with it. Its reconstruction in the 16th century was linked to the spread of leprosy in Cyprus. Dr. Heidenstam, one of the treating physicians involved in the fight against the disease during British rule, presented a report with the first assertations on the extent of leprosy on the island. 

Lepers were marginalized and lived as beggars, as there was no central policy on the disease. The British intervened to handle the issue upon their arrival. 

According to the report, the disease was spread through the pilgrims who arrived at the monastery. This assertion was based on the fact that no reference to the disease had been found in any books prior to the 16th century, while later books did mention it. 

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The doctor noted that the first carriers of the disease were monks, their relavites, and their wider environment. The first cases of leprosy were identified in the mountain villages of Limassol, which gradually spread from village to village, due to the frequent communication between them. 


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