November 20, 2011 - 17:04 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Through woeful neglect by the 'authorities' of Turkish part of Cyprus, Armenian monastery of Sourp Magar, 1,000-year-old treasure and sacred pilgrimage site could soon fall into rubble and succumb to nature, vandals and the swathes of litter and used toilet paper that mar the area, Patrick Dewhurst said in his article titled “A slice of history left to crumble.”
Nestled deep in the Plataniotissa forest SourpMagar is thought to have been founded by Coptic Christians in memory of Saint Makarios the Hermit of Alexandria in around 1,000 AD.
By 1425 it came into the ownership of the Armenian Church, becoming a popular pilgrimage site and retreat for those en route to the Holy Land, and by the time the Ottomans arrived it had taken on the name “Blue Monastery” after the colour of its wooden shutters.
Back then, pilgrims would have trudged through nearly 8,500 donums of monastery owned olives groves from sea level to an altitude of 530m.
Its last use as a working monastery is thought to be around 1800, after which it fell into a variety of alternate uses, including a school, a safe house for Armenian refugees fleeing Ottoman massacres in the 1890s, a summer camp for scouts and then, after the 1974 invasion, a mess for invading Turkish officers and refuge for settlers.
Were any ancient Armenians to make the long hike today, however, they would be surely be horrified by what it has become.
Asked about funding, Armenian community leader Vartkes Mahdessian said: “There is no funding for SourpMagar monastery because it is outside of our parameters, and in our thinking, the church in Nicosia was more of an inter-communal place.”
The Armenian community has reached out to 'authorities' in the north in the past, but, as Mahdessian says, funding was the key issue: “We tried but they didn't have the money. There is virtually nothing left there and the problem we now face is how to maintain what is left,” Cyprus Mail reported.