Kykkou, Kykkou, Kykkos' hill
A monastery the site shall fill
A golden girl shall enter in
And never shall come out again
The protector of the island, the Blessed Virgin Mary has her abode on the north west face of the Troodos mountains, at Kykko monastery and her icon, painted by St Luke, comes down to the plains when needed. The monastery was first built around the end of the 11th century by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos. It burnt down by fire several times and was rebuilt in 1365 by Eleanor of Aragon, wife of Peter I of Cyprus. Although a Catholic, Eleanor was much impressed by the miracles of the Virgin of Kykko and erected a wooden structure. The monastery was destroyed by fires again in 1542, in 1751 and 1813. But the famous icon was always saved. Our Virgin does not want to be seen. She has been covered in silver since the sixteenth century and no human eye may be cast upon her. Whenever there were epidemics, drought, locust attacks or famine, the Virgin of Kykko would come to the cities and listen to the prayers of her people for comfort and help. And she still does. She remains daily on the lips of every Cypriot.
The ‘History Today’ series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus).