20869546Apostolos Andreas Monastery  is a monastery situated just south of Cape Apostolos Andreas, which is the north-easternmost point of the island of Cyprus, in Rizokarpaso in the Karpass Peninsula. The monastery is dedicated to Saint Andrew. The monastery is an important site to the Cypriot Orthodox Church. It was once known as ‘the Lourdes of Cyprus’, served not by an organized community of monks but by a changing group of volunteer priests and laymen. Both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities consider the monastery a holy place. As such it is visited by many people for votive prayers. The contents of the monastery are also noteworthy.

The monastery was supposedly founded here, as during a journey to the Holy Land, the ship which was transporting Saint Andrew went off course and struck the rocks here. On coming ashore, Andrew struck the rocks with his staff, at which point a spring gushed forth. The waters proved to have healing powers, and restored the sight of the ship’s captain who had been blind in one eye. Thereafter, the site became a place of pilgrimage. A fortified monastery stood here in the 12th century, from which Isaac Comnenus negotiated his surrender to Richard the Lionheart. In the 15th century, a small chapel was built close to the shore. The church of the main monastery dates to the 18th century, while the main buildings are 100 years younger.

Mass pilgrimage, however, is only comparatively recent, dating back to the 20th century. The story is told that in 1895, the son of Maria Georgiou was kidnapped. Seventeen years later, Saint Andrew appeared to her in a dream, telling her to pray for her son’s return at the monastery. Living in Anatolia, she embarked on the crossing to Cyprus on a very crowded boat. Telling her story during the journey, one of the passengers, a young Dervish priest became more and more interested. Asking if her son had any distinguishing marks, and on hearing of a pair of birthmarks, he stripped off his clothes to reveal the same marks, and mother and son