Путеводитель по Кипру: достопримечательности, маршруты, путешествия, экскурсии, фотографии, карты

1734, August – October, Lefkosia Печать
Хочу всё знать - Barskiy's Trail: Cyprus

Teacher of Latin

By 1734, Vasily Barsky had accumulated extensive experience as a traveller and was welcomed in the highest clerical circles of Eastern Christianity. He enjoyed the favour of Patriarch Sylvester of Antioch, known as “the Cypriot”, who tonsured Barsky as a monk and sought to keep him by his side. However, the traveller demurred and decided instead to go to Patmos to deepen his knowledge of the Greek language. Afterwards he planned to travel to Constantinople and from there home to Kyiv. Fate, however, was to alter this plan.

While on the road from Damascus to Patmos, Barsky came down with fever and was forced to rest for a while in Tripoli (Lebanon). After recovering, he set sail not for Patmos, but for Cyprus, where he immediately sought an audience with the newly appointed Archbishop Philotheus, since he had heard that the latter was a person of great wisdom and virtue.

Сильвестр с Филофеем

Philotheus received him very warmly in Lefkosia, asked him about everything and, by chance, found out that Barsky spoke Latin.


It was this fact that endeared Philotheus to Barsky not just as a brother in Christ and an individual of outstanding qualities, but also as a valuable professional: the archbishop had a modest “Hellenic” — classical, that is — school, and he was in need of teachers. The school lacked a Latin tutor, which in those times was an absolute necessity: in the Middle East in general (and in Cyprus in particular) Catholic orders, especially the Jesuits, were working actively to lure worshippers away from the Orthodox Church. In this context, knowledge of Latin was essential in order to study and confront the ideological enemy. By then, a split had already appeared in the Antioch patriarchate. Alongside the existing Orthodox hierarchy, led by Barsky’s patron Sylvester the Cypriot, a second appeared, headed by Cyril VI Tanas, who had received his education in Rome and had close ties to the Holy See. Essentially, this led to the formation of a new Greek Catholic Church, called the Melkite Church.

Archbishop Philotheus had a poor grasp of Latin and wanted to deepen his knowledge, not to mention acquiring a Latin tutor for his school. Philotheus convinced Barsky to stay, gave him lodgings in his residence and a seat at his table, and surrounded him with love and attention. The freedom-loving traveller, who had not yet fully recuperated and could therefore allow himself to stay in one place, gave in. He began to teach Latin and Latin grammar to Greek students. This idyll was not to last long...

barsky And so, having recuperated, I set sail from Tripoli to Cyprus, to find a ship for the journey I had planned, and I spent several days in the port named Alikes. I also went to the island’s main city Lefkosia, to the recently ordained Archbishop Philotheus (1), in order to meet him and show him my respect, because I had heard from many of his virtues and wisdom. After arriving there and securing an audience, I was received very well, and we spoke for a long time. When he understood who I was and where I came from, and on learning that I spoke the Latin language, he began to put upon me to stay with him for a while, so as to teach Latin grammar to some [of his] pupils. He knew a little of the Latin language himself and wanted with my help to improve his knowledge; he tried in every possible way to persuade me to stay at his court.

Since I had been convinced of his good nature and kindly disposition towards me and remembered that winter was on the way, as well as the weakness of my body, and fearing that I might get sick again, I succumbed to his kind words and remained in the court of the Archbishop of Cyprus, teaching the Latin language and grammar to the students assigned to me.

I profited by his honours and great love on his part, I took my food every day with him, and found him to be a wise and good-natured man, virtuous and eloquent; his devotion to education was such that he had founded his own Hellenic school (2). He kept me there because of the Latin language, striving diligently to enrich his congregation with all kinds of virtues.

Stranstvovaniya Vasiliya Grigorovicha-Barskogo po svyatym mestam Vostoka c 1723 po 1747 / Edited by N. Barsukov. Part 2. 1723–1727 (St. Petersburg, 1886), 240–241



Coordinates: 35.172400 33.367570 − the Archbishop’s Palace in Nicosia





(1) Philotheus, Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and all Cyprus, who occupied the seat from 1734-1759. Shortly before him, the bishop’s throne had been occupied by Sylvester of Cyprus, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East (27 September 1724—1766), an active opponent of union with Rome. Barsky struck up his friendship with Sylvester in Damascus (where in those years the residence of the Antioch patriarchs was located) and kept up a correspondence with him until the end of his life. It was Sylvester who tonsured Barsky as a monk, hoping that by doing so he would encourage him to remain by his side.
Two portraits of Philotheus have survived to the present day: he appears twice in paintings in St. John’s Cathedral in Lefkosia, both created in 1736. The building itself dates back to 1662. Under the Lusignans (a royal house of French origin that ruled parts of the eastern Mediterranean and Levant from the 12th-15th centuries) there was a Benedictine monastery here honouring the Evangelist John the Apostle. However, following the expulsion of both the Lusignans and the Benedictines from the island in 1426 the Greeks took over the monastery, though its main church continued to be dedicated to John the Apostle. Later, in 1720 the entire complex was renovated and converted into an archbishop's residence, a function that it retains today, with the addition of an opulent palace for the archbishop and President Makarios III.
The first of the portraits is found near the northern doors and is a traditional Byzantine “ktetor portrait”. Philotheus is praying to John the Apostle, who is presenting him to Christ. The second portrait is found in the chancel as part of a composition named “Service of the Holy Fathers”. A small image of Philotheus appears at the foot of the figure of St. Sylvester, which also reflects his respect for his predecessor, who at that time was patriarch. Philotheus is holding a scroll bearing a prayer and the date of the painting: 1736.
The Greek writer Ephram of Athens, later Patriarch Ephram II of Jerusalem, also taught in the school founded by Philotheus.
(2) Hellenic school — a classical school.



Zykova N.V., Palomnichestvo na Kipr pravoslavny (po stopam Vasiliya Grigorovicha-Barskogo), (Larnaca, Izdatelstvo Russkogo pravoslavnogo obrazovatelnogo tsentra, 2013), 240–241.

Bliznyuk S.V., Leonty Makhera i ego khronika “Povest o sladkoi zemle Kipr” / Translated from the Cypriot dialect of medieval Greek, introductory essay and commentary by S.V. Bliznyuk (Moscow, 2018), 24, 48, 67, 77, 83, 84, 92, 128, 146, 174, 176, 200, 206, 219-221, 227-229, 233, 244, 246, 261, 277, 283, 284-287, 291, 305, 308, 313, 314, 316, 331, 362-364, 367-369, 386, 388, 414, 438, 440, 445, 447, 453, 460, 464, 468, 469, 478, 480, 486, 491, 492, 529, 531, 532, 535, 538, 543, 550, 551, 557, 560, 561, 565, 578, 586, 588, 593-596, 609, 621, 636, 643, 656, 658, 669-672, 674, 676-678, 681, 698, 706, 707, 711-714, 717-719, 725.

Bliznyuk S.V., Korolevstvo Kipr i italyanskiye morskiye respubliki XIII–XV vv. (Мoscow, 2016), 59, 62-64, 65, 71, 73, 75-77, 79, 82, 84, 85, 89, 91-93, 95, 99, 104, 105, 108-110, 122, 127, 134, 135, 142, 145, 146, 151-153, 158, 161, 165, 168, 170, 176, 183, 185, 187, 194-196, 199, 201, 203, 216, 221, 224-226, 228-230, 232, 234, 244, 253, 254,м256-258, 261, 264-271, 273-278, 280-282, 288, 290, 291, 293, 294, 297-302, 306, 307, 310, 311, 313-315, 317-320, 326, 328-331, 335, 341-345, 352, 355-357, 371, 372, 374, 375, 378, 379, 382, 383, 395-398, 401, 404, 405-407, 409-411, 413, 415, 417, 424, 427, 435, 437, 441, 443-446, 448, 450, 453.

Stylianou A.&J. The painted churches of Cyprus. Treasures of Byzantine Art. Nicosia, 1985. 2nd edition: Nicosia, 1997, 17, 18, 38, 42, 71, 72, 75, 495-499 (on St. John’s Church; the portrait of Philotheus).


© Yuliya Buzykina
English translation by Alastair Gill