What I Saw

15 Sep 2023

Felix Faber, visited Cyprus twice, in 1480 and 1488. He was a Dominican monk from Ulm visiting the Holy Land.

Felix Faber, visited Cyprus twice, in 1480 and 1488. He was a Dominican monk from Ulm visiting the Holy Land. Much impressed he was by the Holy Mountain of the Cross in Cyprus where he saw the cross of the good thief.

"Wonderful is the position or location of this cross in its place. It is in a niche dimly lighted, both its arms are sunk in recesses made in the wall, and its foot is sunk in a recess in the floor. But the recesses of the arms and the foot are large, disproportionately so to what they hold, yet does not the cross touch the wall, but is absolutely free from any contact with it; and this is the wonderful story about the cross that it hangs in the air without support, and yet it stands as firmly as though it were attached by the strongest nails, or bonded to the wall, which it is not, for all these recesses are large, so that a man can put in his hand and feel that there is no fixture in the back or the head of the cross. I might have examined it more curiously than I did, but I feared God, and what I forbade others to do I ought not to do myself. For I ascended this mountain to do honour to this cross, not to find a miracle or to tempt God. That this cross may be the more worthy of veneration they have set in it a small piece of the true cross of Christ.

In this chapel hangs a bell, which we rang, and I said to my companions that we should hear no more bells until we returned to Christian lands. And this was true, for thenceforth for four months we heard no bell but this, which we believe was put up by S. Helena, who set here this cross. But what moved that holy woman to set this cross here? We might say that she had many excellent reasons. First for the destruction of gentile rites and errors. For on this mountain stood a temple dedicated to Venus, who claimed indeed the patronage of the whole island because she left throughout marks of her wantonness. Helena therefore destroyed the shrine, and set up the cross for a rule of chastity, and bid religious men, vowed to chastity, live here to give the lie to Venus. She changed the name of the mountain: it was formerly called Ydolius, now Santa Croce. 'Twas said too of old that Perseus, sire of all the nobility of Greece, took his flight from this mountain to free Andromeda, who was bound to a rock at Joppa and left to be devoured by a sea monster. Hence too he flew to fight the Gorgon. These fantastic stories drew many people hither. So the holy woman placed here the cross from which the good thief flew to Paradise. "

The 'What I Saw...' series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus) and the Active Citizens Fund.

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