01 February 2012

Orthodoxy and the Latin Church

When Richard the Lionheart, King of England, landed in Cyprus in 1191, he intended only to make a brief stop on the way to defend the Norman Kingdom of Jerusalem from the sieging Saracen forces.  At that time the island was ruled by a local tyrant named Comnenus who had declared independence from the Byzantine (Greek) Empire and called himself King.  When Comnenus refused hospitality to Richard's party, Richard landed his forces and overthrew Comnenus, annexing Cyprus to his Norman holdings.

Over the next year, the defeated Norman King of Jerusalem was offered Cyprus as a fief.  The new ruler of Cyprus was Guy de Lusignan.  The Lusignan (or Frankish) Dynasty ruled Cyprus until lost to the Venetian Empire in the 1400s.  One of the first acts of the new Frankish government was to establish the Roman Catholic Church as the official church (where it had never had any followers or influence).

The Latins forced the Cyprus Orthodox Church to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope.  Roman Catholic priests began to arrive a few years later.  The Orthodox Church survived despite persecutions during this time.

Since Orthodox call the Roman Church the Latin Church, they call this period of Western domination the Latin Period.  Non-Greek Cypriot Christians here are still officially referred to as Latins, and are given ethnic representation in Parliament under this name.

The large Maronite (Syrio-Lebanese) Christian community, whose church is in full communion with the Roman Catholic ("Latin") Church, are separately represented.  Evangelical Christians make up a miniscule proportion of the population, even counting foreigners.

In 1571 after the Ottoman Turks conquered the island, they reestablished the Orthodox Church as the official church of the island, which had then become a province of the Ottoman Empire.  The Latin Church leaders were expelled and their churches turned into mosques.  The Lala Pasha Mosque is a former Latin Church in Famagusta, Cyprus, that is now a prominent mosque.

See my photos of Cyprus Churches and other sites

Read more about Cyprus and the Orthodox Church on my website:
Cyprus: Notes and Perceptions
Read more about the Orthodox Church in my article

More on Cyprus
Cyprus - Wikipedia
Cyprus - CIA - The World Factbook
Orthodox Church of Cyprus

More on the Maronites
Maronite - Wikipedia
Maronite Church - Wikipedia
The Maronites and Lebanon, A Brief History
Present state of the Maronites - Catholic Encyclopedia