Hundreds flocked yesterday to the Ayios Charalambos church, patron saint of the occupied community of Kontea for a service and prayers to the saint being celebrated today. There were massive queues at the Pergamos, Strovilia and Ayios Dhometios checkpoints, as 11 buses and dozens of people in their vehicles travelled to the UN restored church, dating to 1870, for the first service since 1974.
Arrangements were made through UNFICYP for the passage of worshippers to the Mesaoria community.
Officiating was Mesaoria Bishop Gregorios and among other priests, father Frangiskos, the last to leave the community after the Turkish invasion. The service and the litany which followed outside were attended by high profile guests, including US Ambassador John Koenig and United Nations officials.
The church was restored by the UN Development Programme and USAID with Turkish-Cypriots architects and Civil Engineers’ Associations overseeing the work that took four years and included the complete restoration of the original iconostas.