May 1727

Nicosia is the most important and largest town on the island of Cyprus, and that is why the Turks rule there, as they own all of Cyprus …

In Nicosia live all of the most important and rich people, and the merchants also live there. There are more Turks than there are Christians, and there are also some Roman Catholics and Armenians. The number of the Christian churches inside the town all told is nine; the rest are all Turkish mosques, which have been converted from holy churches. There is not a single Greek monastery; there is, however, a French one and an Armenian church.

* Barskij makes no specific mention of the catholic church of the Holy Cross, which existed in Nicosia since 1642. No reference is made to the Cross of Misirikkos. 

Les Grecs la nomment Stavros tou Missiricou, “la Croix de Missiricou”. Ce qu’il y a de bizarre, c’est l’origine que l’on assigne ici à ce nom. Missiricou ne serait autre chose que le nom français défiguré de “Monsieur Henri”, “la croix de Monsieur Henri”. Je ne vois rien l’impossible dans cette explication, mais quell est cet Henri?

Émile Deschamps, Au pays d'Aphrodite: Chypre: carnet d'un voyageur, Paris 1898, pp. 66-67. 

Αρμενικος Σταυρός

Gilded cross from the Armenian church of Nicosia (© Department of Antiquities of Cyprus)

“This small church or chapel is an excellent example of the style of art and the mixture of architectural elements which seems to have prevailed in Cyprus during the Venetian Occupation. The cruciform plan crowned by a cupola is Byzantine, the buttresses with dripstones suggest the mediaeval period, whilst the decorative stone carving is evidently copied from drawings of a classic or renaissance description. It was doubtless the intention of the builders to imitate one of the small churches so common in a Venetian city. It has been supposed that this church is referred to by Dapper (‘Les iles de l’Archipel’) as belonging to the Italian Missionaries in the XVIIth century—the name corrupted from ‘the Cross of the Missionaries,’ its Turkish name seems to be ‘Arab-jami,’ or the mosque of the Arab slaves, and the most probable derivation of ‘missericou’ is from the Arabic ‘Misr’ meaning Egypt, the land from which most of the Arab slaves would have come, although the prefix ‘Stavro’ seems odd applied to a mosque.”

G. Jeffery, A description of the historic monuments of Cyprus. Studies in the archaeology and architecture of the island, Cyprus 1918, p. 45.

  • Holy Cross Catholic church, Nicosia