17 April 2014 10:43

For the first time in more than half a century, a church in occupied Cyprus will host Good Friday mass in a sign of a thaw in relations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Off limits to Greek Cypriots for 58 years, the Church of St. George Exorinos in the mediaeval city of Famagusta will host a liturgy on what is one of the most important religious dates in the Greek Orthodox calendar.
Alexis Galanos, Famagusta mayor-in-exile, hopes it can be a precursor to lasting peace.
Galanos joined with Turkish Cypriot counterpart Oktay Kayalp to organise the event that is expected to draw about 4,000 worshippers.
"It gives a message of reconciliation and cooperation of Greek and Turkish Cypriots throughout Cyprus, and particularly for a reunified Famagusta," said Galanos.
An ancient port city which inspired Shakespeare's tragedy "Othello", Famagusta was once the Mediterranean island's premier coastal resort.
Liturgies at St. George Exorinos stopped before Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, after clashes between Greek and Turkish Cypriots broke out.
Many Greek Orthodox churches in the north have been looted, abandoned or turned into mosques.


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