Apostolos Andreas Monastery is located just south of Cape Apostolos Andreas, in the Karpass Peninsula, which is the north-easternmost point of Cyprus. St. Andrew, after whom the monastery is named, was Christ’s first follower and His devoted companion.
Like the other apostles, who were gifted with an ability to speak and understand different languages, St. Andrew set out to preach on the tenth day following Christ’s Resurrection. His first stop was the coast of the Black Sea, then he visited Chersonesus, then traveled along the river Dnepr and visited what today is known as Kyiv, where he erected a cross on one of its hills and predicted that this would be a city of many churches. Then the apostle visited what today is known as Novgorod and Rome, then went to Thracia and then founded the Christian Church in the Byzantia settlement (future Constantinople). Wherever he was and who ever he dealt with, Andrew continued to preach and spread the Word of God.
During his second missionary trip at the beginning of the 1st century the Apostle Andrew ended up in Cyprus. He was passing the island on his way to Ephesus, when the ship ran out of drinking water and together with his crew he had to come ashore looking to replenish his resources. After setting foot on the island, Andrew hit the rocks, at which point a spring gushed forth. The water streaming from the rocks turned out to have healing powers after it was used to restore sight to the blind son of the captain.
Years later the old captain still remembered the miracle that happened to his son and decided to return to the island and build a church next to the holy spring in the name of the Apostle Andrew. The church has not survived, but there is archival evidence that proves that in 1103 the cape bore the apostle’s name. In addition to that, it is believed that the Monastery of the Apostle Andrew is where the self-proclaimed Cypriot Emperor Isaac Komnin was hiding from Richard the Lionheart.
During the rule of the House of Luisignan (15th century) an unknown French nobleman had financed the construction of a new gothic church on top of the ancient church. This church has survived and looks like a single-nave chapel with intersecting vaults.
Abbot John played an important role in the history of the monastery. After mastering religious teachings at the Kykkos Monastery, in 1886 he took it upon himself to run the monastery. Under his guidance, village residents erected a new, spacious church on top of the gothic chapel and sanctified it in the name of St. Andrew. The new church stood out thanks to the semi-spherical dome, which rested on vaulted arches. Monk cells were situated on the second floor under an arcade that spanned the perimeter of the building. Next to the church they set up a fig tree garden. The rectangular bell tower was set up to face the sea.
The church is decorated with a three-tier iconostasis, which features Christian symbols like the birds pecking on grapes, pomegranate fruit, stylized palm branches and many images of animals, birds and plants. The author of the small and large icons is painter Frangulidis. The Veneration tier features full-length images of Virgin Hodegetria, the Savior, John the Baptist and a very rare icon of Holy Sinesiya and Filon, who had converted Cyprus residents to Christianity in the 4th century.
The Royal Doors of the iconostasis include a sliding screen with the face of Jesus wearing a mandyas and holding a crosier with a double-headed eagle. The crosier resembles the miracle-working staff that Moses carried in the Old Testament. In the New Testament this power was manifested in the sermons of Christ and His apostles. The icon of the Apostle Andrew, which once hung on the church walls has not survived.
The bust of Abbott John who has done so much to see the monastery flourish is located in the garden.
At the beginning of the 20th century Apostolos Andreas Monastery was one of the wealthiest and most famous monasteries in Cyprus. Following the events of 1974, when the monastery became part of the occupied land of Northern Cyprus, the influx of pilgrims had noticeably tapered off. However, today people from around the world still come here to seek help and find hope.
One of the myriads of legends surrounding the monastery tells the story of a blind architect who acquired his sight during the monastery’s reconstruction in the 19th century. There is another story of a Greek woman named Maria who lived in the 20th century and who spent years searching for her son who had been abducted by Turks. Finally, the Apostle Andrew himself visited her in her sleep and told her to go to Cyprus. When she reached the coast of Cyprus she saw a dervish, who turned out to be her grown up son.
St. Andrew, whose name the monastery bears, was crucified on an X-shaped cross. He suffered for two days. Today his relics are kept at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.