and the reconstruction of the armenian diocese of cyprus in 1920-930s

Edgar G. Hovhannisyan

The first mentions about Armenians in Cyprus date back to the 6th-7th centuries. During the reign of the Armenian Catholicos Gregory IV at the end of the 12th century the Armenian Diocese of Cyprus was mentioned for the first time. In the following centuries, Cyprus became one of the most important cultural and spiritual centers of the Armenians.

After the genocide, the image of the Armenians of Cyprus completely changed. The number of Armenians in Cyprus was not large before the Armenian Genocide. Several thousand Armenians displaced from a number of settlements of Cilicia and Western Armenia took refuge on the island of Cyprus. However, many Armenian refugees did not find favorable living conditions on the island and left for other countries. In the 1920s and 1930s, the number of Armenians in Cyprus fluctuated between 3,500-4,000.

The Armenian Diocese of Cyprus was mainly under the jurisdiction of the Holy See of Cilicia of the Armenian Church. However, at different times it was also subordinated to the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. After the Armenian Genocide, the reconstruction of the Armenian Diocese of Cyprus was very important for organizing the community life of the Armenians of Cyprus. It was also very important to clarify the status of the Diocese of Cyprus in terms of subordination. It is worth to mention, that after leaving Cilicia, the Catholicosate of Cilicia lost all its dioceses except the Diocese of Aleppo. A number of obstacles appeared in that process. After a persistent struggle, the problem was finally resolved in the mid-1920s and the Diocese of Cyprus came under the jurisdiction of the Catholicosate of Cilicia. The Diocese of Cyprus became the first reconstructed diocese of the Catholicosate of Cilicia

After all this, the Armenian Diocese of Cyprus made enormous efforts to organize the community life of the Armenian refugees who settled in Cyprus and to preserve their national identity. The Primate of the Diocese, Archbishop Petros Sarajyan, played a huge role in this issue. He led the Diocese of Cyprus for about twenty years from 1920 until 1940, until he was elected the Catolicos of the Cilician See