The Church of the Holy Cross of Agiasmati is located close to Lagoudera village and is a UNESCO world heritage site. According to a legend, the monastery, which once encompassed the church, was founded by a group of refugees from Agiasmati – a place just outside of Constantinopole. The refugees also brought with them a manuscript describing the story of Queen Helena and the True Cross.
At the moment the only thing that remains of the monastery is the church, which was built at the end of the 15th century. The church is surrounded with a roofed gallery designed to protect the wall paintings created by Philip Goul – one of the best fresco artists of the time. The paintings include 30 scenes from the New Testament, 30 holy images, the Last Judgment, excerpts from the Passion Week, Christ’s miracles, images of saints, martyrs, warriors as well as the True Cross and the story of its discovery.
Legend has it that Empress Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, set out for Jerusalem in 326 in search of the True Cross. There she spoke with many people in an attempt to find out the truth about the Cross. As a result of her efforts, Helena found the location where the relic was said to be buried. But the location revealed not one, but three crosses. To determine which one was the True Cross, each of the discovered crosses was laid next to a dead woman and only one of them brought her back to life. The nails that were driven through Christ’s body were handed over to Helena.
The frescoes also portray the legend, which claimed that Constantine the Great saw the cross glowing in the sky before of the battle of the Milvian Bridge. The most beautiful fresco at the church is a representation of Blachernitissa (also known as Our Lady of Blachernae), which is located in the alter space.
To visit the church, please inquire with the warden at the village café.