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A message of hope on the feast day of St. Andrew

Wednesday, November 30, 2016  | 

In what proved a historic occasion, hundreds of pilgrims gathered at the newly renovated St. Andrew’s monastery, off the tip of Cyprus’ Kapras peninsula this morning. Greek and Turkish Cypriots celebrated the feast day of St. Andrew and participated in a liturgical service for one of the first times since the monastery’s re-opening in early November.

First Lady Andri Anastasiades attended today’s liturgy and expressed her hopes for a settlement and the reunification of the island.

The reopening of the monastery and today’s celebration mark steps in the right direction for freedom of religion and a free and reunified Cyprus. In light of the monastery’s reconstruction, President Anastasiades tweeted, “The completion of the restoration of the monastery of St. Andrew sends a message of hope and shows the path toward cooperation.”Screen Shot 2016-11-30 at 4.09.43 PM

Since the invasion and occupation of Cyprus in 1974, countless churches and monasteries have been desecrated and destroyed and religious services have been prohibited in the occupied northern part of Cyprus. Today’s feast day is not only in honor the Saint’s life, but also is a day to celebrate religious tolerance in a region that suffers from religious persecution, as Saint Andrew is the patron saint of religious freedom.

The reconstruction of the ancient monastery and the religious tolerance that its reopening represents on this divided island stands a symbol of hope for the long-awaited reunification process. Today’s feast is an example of what can be accomplished when the two communities work together, and to echo President Anastasiades’ statement, sends a message of hope. 

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