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Maronite Catholic Archeparchy of Cyprus

Maronite Catholic Archeparchy of Cyprus[1][2] (in Latin: Archeparchy Cyprensis Maronitarum) is a seat of the Maronite Church immediately subject to the Holy See. It is currently ruled by Archeparch Joseph Soueif.[3]

Archeparchy of Cyprus (Maronite)

Archeparchy Cyprensis Maronitarum
Nicosia by Paride 11.JPG
Maronite Catholic Archeparchy of Cyprus with the Lebanese and Vatican flags
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
DenominationMaronite Church
RiteWest Syro-Antiochene Rite
CathedralOur Lady of Grace Cathedral (Nicosia)
Patron saintOur Lady of Grace
Current leadership
PatriarchBechara Boutros al-Rahi
ArcheparchJoseph Soueif

Territory and statisticsEdit

The archeparchy extends its jurisdiction over all the faithful Maronites of the island of Cyprus. Its arcieparchial seat is the city of Nicosia, where is located the Our Lady of Grace Cathedral (Nicosia).

The archeparchy at the end of 2013 out of a population of 838,897 people had 10,400 baptized, corresponding to 1.2% of the total. Its territory is divided into 12 parishes.


  • Parish of Our Lady of Grace in Nicosia
  • Parish of Saint George in Kormakitis
  • Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel in Αsomatos
  • Parish of Saint Croix in Karpasha
  • Parish of Saint Marina in Saint Marina
  • Parish of Saint-Maron at Anthoupolis
  • Parish of Saint-Marina of Kotsiatis
  • Parish of Saint-Charbel in Limassol
  • Parish of Saint Marina in Polemidia
  • Parish of Saint Joseph in Larnaca
  • Parish of Saint Kyriaki in Pafos


The Maronite community of Syria, the Holy Land and Lebanon has settled in the ninth century in the northern part of Cyprus till the twelfth century and went through all the vicissitudes of the Christian community of the island: the occupation of the France (1191–1489), the Venetians (1489–1571) and Ottoman (1571–1832), managing to survive and progress. The largest Maronite immigration were in the years 1224, 1570, 1596, 1776 and 1878.

A Cypriot Maronite community in communion with Rome is reported since 1316 when a Maronite bishop, Hananya, who during the reign of the Lusignan took office in Cyprus.[4] The Catholic Bishops' series begins in 1357, when in the hands of the Latin bishop of Nicosia the Maronite community with his bishop emit a profession of the Catholic faith. This union is confirmed and reinforced by the Papal bull Benedictus sit Deus promulgated by Pope Eugene IV at the Council of Florence on August 7, 1455.

The Maronite community of Cyprus was the largest community of Eastern Christians, after the Greeks. During the Latin occupation of the island, with the first Lusignan and then by the Venetians, the Maronites increased in number, thanks to the many properties and privileges granted to them by the new masters of the island; they were subjected sixty villages and, as estimated by Hackett,[5] the number of faithful was around 180,000. In 1514 the Maronite Patriarch informed the Pope Leo X about the machinations and the seizure of Maronite churches by the Latin bishop of Nicosia. The Venetian ruled in Cyprus from 1489 to 1571, leaving a ravaged island.

However, with the Ottoman occupation of Cyprus from 1571 to 1878, the situation gets worse for the Maronite community, which saw reduced drastically the number of the faithful and of communities, because Maronites were driven out of their villages, the churches were destroyed, and the bishop had to leave his episcopal see.

With the death of Bishop Luc, a Cypriot, in 1673 there were not Maronite bishop of Cyprus till 1878. The bishops of Cyprus visited only sporadically the island, and the remaining Maronite faithful were cared by Franciscans (OFM). In 1735 were sent by the Superior general of the OML two monks to Cyprus, and they build a school for the Maronite community, which was inaugurated in 1763 by the synod of Maronite bishops, because the seat of the Bishop of Cyprus should initially remain in Lebanon.

The archeparchy was canonically erected in the Maronite Synod of Mount Lebanon in 1736. Since the end of the sixteenth century the Maronite bishops, who until then had always resided in Nicosia, began to put their home on the mainland and returned only on the island starting from nineteenth century. In this period there were Latin priests to take care of the few island's Maronite community.

In 1974 Turkey had intervened the attempted mass murder of Turks on the island started by Greeks hoping to connect Cyprus to Greece permanently and so the north of Cyprus became a Turkish Cypriot ruled area. The Maronite community had chosen to leave their homes and move to the south. In the city of Kormakitis (50 km from Nicosia), the heart of the community, all the churches and religious buildings to the Christians have suffered a change of use, becoming warehouses, museums or even mosques. Today is the only center of the Turkish Republic in which they live more of Maronite Christians, about 130 people. Two villages have been turned into military bases. There is only one church in the north where you can celebrate Mass, dedicated to St. George.

In 2003 it was introduced the freedom of movement from one part of the island, so the Maronites were able to renew ties that were broken off thirty years ago.

On days 4 to 6 June 2010, Pope Benedict XVI made an apostolic visit to the Christian community of Cyprus.[6] This was the first time a pope visited the island of Cyprus.

Today exist in Cyprus eleven municipalities with a Maronite presence, these are in Nicosia (same bishopric), Kormakitis, Asomatos, Ayia Marina, Karpasha, Anthoupolis, Kotsiatis, Limassol, Polemidia, Larnarca, Paphos.[7]

Some of the Maronites of Cyprus still speak Cypriot Maronite Arabic, a dialect of Arabic.


  • Hananya (mentioned in 1316)
  • Youhanna (mentioned in 1357)
  • Jacob Al-Matrity (mentioned in 1385)
  • Elias (before 1431 - after 1445)
  • Youssef (died 1505)
  • Gebrayel Qela'î (1505–1516)
  • Maroun (1516 -?)
  • Antonios (mentioned in 1523)
  • Girgis Hadthy (mentioned in 1528)
  • Eliya Hadthy (mentioned in 1530)
  • Francis (mentioned in 1531)
  • Marcos El-Baytomini (mentioned in 1552)
  • Girgiss (mentioned in 1562)
  • Julios (mentioned in 1567)
  • Youssef (died 1588)
  • Youhanna (1588–1596)
  • Moise Anaisi of Akura (1598–1614)
  • Girgis Maroun al Hidnani (1614–1634)
  • Elias to Hidnani (mentioned in 1652)
  • Sarkis Al Jamri (1662–1668 deceased)
  • Estephan El Douaihy (July 8, 1668 – May 1670 elected patriarch of Antioch)[8]
  • Luca of Carpasia (1671–1673)
  • Boutros Doumit Makhlouf (1674–1681)
  • Youssef (1682–1687)
  • Gabriel Hawa, OLM (1723–1752)
  • Tobias El Khazen (? - 28 March 1757 confirmed the patriarch of Antioch)
  • Elias El Gemayel (died 1786)
  • Philip Gemayel (1786 succeeded - 14 June 1795 elected patriarch of Antioch)
  • Abdullah Blibl (Abdalla Blaibel) (12 March 1798 – 1 March 1842 deceased)
  • Joseph Giagia (26 December 1843 – 1878 resigned)
  • Youssef Al Zoghbi (1883 – December 17, 1890 deceased)
  • Nemtallah Selwan (June 12, 1892 – September 18, 1905 deceased)
  • Boutros Al Zoghbi (February 11, 1906 – October 28, 1910 deceased)
  • Boulos Awwad (February 11, 1911 – June 14, 1941 resigned)
  • François Ayoub (November 28, 1942 – April 16, 1954 appointed Archbishop of Aleppo)
  • Elie Farah (16 April 1954 – 4 April 1986 retired)
  • Joseph Mohsen Bechara (April 4, 1986 – June 11, 1988 appointed Archbishop of Antelias)
  • Boutros Gemayel (11 June 1988 – 29 October 2008 withdrawn)
  • Joseph Soueif (since 29 October 2008)


  1. ^ "Archdiocese of Cyprus, Cyprus (Maronite Rite)". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  2. ^ "Η Μαρωνίτικη Κοινότητα δίπλα στον αγώνα της Κύπρου για επανένωση | ΚΥΠΕ". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  3. ^ "Καλωσορίσατε στην Ιστοσελίδα μας » Μήνυμα Αρχιεπισκόπου Ιωσήφ Σουέηφ". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  4. ^ "ΟΙ Μαρωνίτες ΤΗΣ ΚΥΠΡΟΥ" (PDF). 4 February 2013. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  5. ^ "John Hackett, A History of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, Methuen & co., London 1901, pp. 527-529". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  6. ^ "Vatican". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  7. ^
  8. ^ [Confermato l'8 agosto 1672.]

External linksEdit