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MY YEAR IN NICOSIA, CYPRUS
My first experience of Cyprus was in 1995 when I was privileged to spend a month in Larnaca adapting my mother’s novel, THE LONG JOURNEY, into a screenplay. My brother put me up in his guest bedroom. Then took me on a tour of the island and gave me a small taste of its rich history. I fell in love with the island of love, the birthplace of Aphrodite, its people, its Mediterranean food, the climate, the beach… I quickly adopted my slogan for this opportunity, ‘an adventure a day.’ I certainly had them.
A first fascination was Larnaca. I had no idea that the Lazarus of the Bible that Jesus raised from the dead escaped persecution in Bethany and moved to Larnaca, Cyprus where he became the first Bishop of Larnaca and its fledgling Christian congregation. I quickly swirled a scenario around the piece of his skull that even to this day can be seen under plexiglass and is brought out for baptisms and holy days. I found that the Venetians had stolen the body several centuries ago and only would return the skull. The crypt is full of wax figures representing those who desire to be healed by the Saint’s petition on their behalf. I found the wax works nearby fascinating and bought a wax face to mount on my travel wall at home when I got back. The interesting thing about the wax is that it is mixed with all the candles and figurines of past centuries and so there is a molecule of original wax within each fabrication. My wax face has since been in heated storage and is basically a clump of brownish something that needs explanation. I cling to it fondly with the fantasy of passing it on as a treasured relic. So back to the Biblical account. Lazarus was loved by Jesus and he also had two sisters and to our knowledge none of them were ever married. I would suppose the sisters also immigrated to Cyprus to help with the small congregation. Imagine having to die a second time? I would think Lazarus wouldn’t been so terrified of it anymore and might have had a hospice ministry to ease the terminally infirm back into the earth.
I have to admit that I developed a bit of superstition about the place. There was a lottery scratch off kiosk just outside the gate and I would buy a few tickets just in case some of the skull shine still shone. It’s silly but one never knows? I never won anything, hehheh.
If you ever get the chance to vacation in Larnaca, Cyprus be absolutely sure to visit the small Church of St. Lazarus and possibly you might get a chance to kiss the skull and buy a scratch off and WIN. Either way, I know you will be richly rewarded with adventure.