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St Mamas Church and Icon Museum
St. Mamas Monastery Church is located next to the Güzelyurt Natural and Archaeological Museum, which is in the old Omorfo (Güzelyurt) Metropolitan building. St. Mamas is a local saint who is extremely well-known in Cyprus. Thought to be from Paphlagonia or Pamphylia, he was subjected to various forms of torture before being killed in the Cappadocian city of Caesarea during the time of the Roman Emperor, Aurelianus (274 AD). The arrival of the cult of St. Mamas in Cyprus coincided with the reign of the Byzantine Emperor, Tiberius. In 647 AD, in order to stop the Arab raids, The Byzantine Emperor Tiberius, sent border guards from Akritai, in Cappadocia to Omorfo. The guards who set up camp here believed in St. Mamas and had brought with them some of his remains in a large sarcophagus. They placed these inside a small Byzantine church, which they built on the site of a temple dedicated to Astarte. The original monastery church was small and so it was rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries in the Italian and Gothic style. The first half of the church we see today was built in the 16th century on the site of an early Christian basilica and the remains of a Byzantine church. The dome was added in 1725 and the monastery rooms in 1779. The church’s iconostatis displays the features of the Lusignan and Venetian periods. The four pillars of the iconostatis, which are very rare in Cyprus, date back to 1500 AD (the Venetian period). The relief shows patterns depicting figs, grapes and acorns, together with the Venetian arms and shield. The church’s pulpit was erected in 1711. St. Mamas’ tomb has been set into the wall to the left of the church’s north entry door in such a way that it can be seen both from the exterior and the interior of the church. In the icons, St. Mamas is depicted as riding on a lion, with a lamb on his lap. According to the stories, St. Mamas was a poor and humble man living in a cave in the mountains. The government of the time had issued an order that everyone had to pay tax. However, St. Mamas refused to pay tax on the grounds that he lived in a cave in the mountains and didn’t use the roads or other services provided by the state. The city’s leader sent soldiers to capture St. Mamas in order to punish him. As the soldiers were taking him to the city, a lion appeared in front of them, about to tear a lamb apart. As the soldiers looked on terrified, St. Mamas rescued the lamb from the paws of the wild animal, took it in his arms, and mounting the lion, he continued on his way. He entered the city in this way. The Roman governors were astonished to see St. Mamas like this and exempted him from paying tax for the rest of his days. Since that day, he has been known as the saint of animals and shepherds. Two religious ceremonies are held in the church every year. One of these is on St. Mamas’ day, which is the 2nd September, and the other is held on Palm Sunday, to commemorate the day Jesus entered Jerusalem, the first Sunday before Easter