Fasoula Village in Limassol, Cyprus
The village of Fasoula is in the district of Limassol, at a distance of about 10 kilometers north of the city of Limassol, between the villages Mathikoloni, Apsiou, and Spitali.
The village is built at an average altitude of 370 meters and receives an average annual rainfall of about 550 millimeters. Locust, almond, and olive trees, cereals, as well as a few citrus trees are cultivated in the area of the community. As far as stockbreeding is concerned, it only operates in a limited manner.
From the perspective of transportation, Fasoula is connected via turnpike roads to the city of Limassol on the south, and the village of Spitali in the west. It connects via a macadamized street to the village of Apsiou in the north and with the village of Mathikoloni in the east.
The community has undergone a continuous increase of population since 1880 and until 1920, and stagnancy of population between 1921 and 1930. A decrease of population was presented from 1931 and until 1982. In 1881 the inhabitants of the village numbered 190, increasing to 251 in 1891 and to 262 in 1901. In 1911 the population totaled 354 and in 1921 it totaled 442. In 1931 the population of the village decreased to 440 (402 Greek-Cypriots and 38 Turkish-Cypriots) only to increase to 523 in 1946 (498 Greek-Cypriots and 25 Turkish-Cypriots). In 1960 there was a new decrease of population and as a result the community numbered 435 inhabitants (417 Greek-Cypriots and 18 Turkish-Cypriots). After 1964, because of the intercommunal unrest that followed the Turkish-Cypriot mutiny, the Turkish-Cypriot inhabitants of Fasoula transferred in other -thoroughly -Turkish-Cypriot villages, in the context of instructions by Ankara to create strong Turkish-Cypriot pockets in Cyprus. So, by 1973 the inhabitants of Fasoula numbered 325 Greek-Cypriots that were reduced to 319 in 1982. Today the inhabitants of the community number 400.
The village existed since the Medieval years and it can be found marked in old maps under the names Fasula and Pasula. However, the area of the village was inhabited ever since ancient times. Indeed, there was a temple dedicated to "Lavranios" Zeus in the southwest of the village, at a distance of about 800 meters on top of the venue named Kastros. This hilltop is today known under the name "Moutti tou Dhkia" (Hilltop of Zeus). Inscriptions -all engraved on pedestals of statues -dedicated to "Lavranios" Zeus have been found on this hilltop. These inscriptions date back to the 2nd century AD, that is, at a time that Christianity had already become dominant in Cyprus. So it seems that the region of Fasoula was one of the last strongholds of paganism.
The origin of the village's name is not certain. There are several versions for the etymology of the name of the village but the prevailing ones are:
1. The village, according to tradition, took its name from the First Settler whose name was Fasoulas and was a monk.
2. Some believe that it originated from "fasolia" (beans) which they assume were cultivated in the region in previous times, something however that is not certain at all.
3. Another version, which is the most probable one, reports that the village took the name from the Frank word "Fasoula" that means reaping hook -the known instrument for harvesting. If we assume that sowing and reaping was the main occupation of the inhabitants in the region then this becomes the most probable explanation for the name of the village.
The natural environment of the village is truly unique.During springtime, the verdurous valley with its blooming almond-trees and the crops create an amazing sight. The village has many things to offer to its visitors. The Tomb of St. Reginos and its old chapel, the large church and the tiny chapel of St. Marina are buildings with remarkable architecture.
The Rural Museum of the village, with tools used by the people of older times, is also quite interesting.
Agios Reginos and Orestis
HONOURED BY THE COMMUNITY OF FASOULA
Agios Reginos and Orestis were given birth in the city of Halkidonia, that is found at the coasts of M.Asia, at Propontida (today is said Kantikioi).
The ways and the behavior of these young persons testified their noble origin and their right upbringing, which they took from their parents, but their appearance and youthful vigor testified also their brave belief. One reason that accepted in the army of the king, in the battalion of recruits, that were very shortly distinguished.
For the parents of the Saints we do not have any information. Perhaps however they had Christian parents, because from their children's age they worshipped Christ and gave also their life for him.
They were then the difficult years of the big persecutions of our Christian faith, that the Roman Emperors with fury tried to eliminate them from the earth. Lets see however the course of brave athlete Reginos, followed by his friend Orestis.
His Roman name was Vonomilix that means Reginos. When therefore, the brave Reginos went to the army, in order to have no personal obligations, he sold his property and gave alms to the poor people. Free henceforth, it fights to live the life of prudence, applying in the practice the virtues that help a person to have an intellectual life. He rightly applies the virtue of fast eating dry bread one time per day, in order to control first the flesh and to subjugate in the errand of God. He is continuously practiced in the devotion, even if he is in the army` above all it is the God life and not the sinful errand of flesh. The idolater's colleagues of Reginos saw him and betrayed him to the sovereign Prezentino the Stratilati, who asked to present the athlete in front of him. The idolater sovereign, ask the assisting soldiers, who is he what is his name, and those said, it is said Vonomilix that means Reginos. The sovereign asked Reginos if it is truth what his colleagues said. Then the brave Christ athlete with courage answered to the tyrant: "What they have against me, let them say it ». Of course Prezentinos was already informed for everything and he did not need the answer of Reginos, that's why he told him: « Sacrifice to the Gods, Reginos, in order to rescue your life and to avoid the tortures ». The answer of Reginos was also courageous: « I do not sacrifice in your false gods, only in my god, because he is the real God, which made the sky and the earth, the sea and everything that exist in it. I sacrifice in my God that from the beginning created everything, and only in This God I will be sacrificed, your gods are deaf idols and without breath and life ».
With this courageous answer of Reginos the Prezentinos full of anger and with rage asked nine soldiers to lay him down at the ground of witness and punish him. He laid down with patience full of passion for the Christ and he endured the hard punishment from the soldiers up to the time his fleshes were ragged and the ground become red from the blood of the Christian athlete.
The executioners were tired, but the fighter glorified God, that demanded him to be tortured for His name. The tortures of Reginos did not finish, but more painful methods were employed by the tyrant. They brought a copper table were they lighted fire, and they laid Reginos on the table in order to be burned. However, the God that knows to save his slaves from the malice of devil, it heard the pray of his fighter, it neutralized the fire and changed it into freshness, and Reginos remained unaffected, without the least mark on his body.
This marvel astonished those watching the scene and especially the sovereign, and Prezentinos began to say to the Saint, « Reginos, sacrifice in the gods in order to honor them and I will give bigger honors in advance. If you don't obey it, I will throw in the sea to become food for the fishes ". Reginos answers to the tyrant with these words. "The honors, that you promised to me, leave them for you in order to take them with you in the fire of hell. Also about throwing me in the sea , I don't care, because God, that rescued the prophet Jonas from the abdomen of the big cetaceans, he will rescue me from the sea also. For your gods, I repeat to you, that all your gods are demons, and only Christ is the real God».
Then the sovereign became very angry and ordered to bring him a big bag, they put Reginos in it and secured it with pencil, he delivered him to his soldiers and ordered them to take him far away into the sea and throw him to become food for the fishes. The soldiers took the bag with Reginos somewhere 40 miles in the sea. They threw him and they came back.
As soon as the soldiers threw him at the bottom of the sea, the bag was tear out and he was free again while two dolphins that were found there took him and brought him to the coasts. When the Saint appeared to come from far away on the ridge of a dolphin, the news were spread very quickly and many people run to see what was happening, and Orestis also, they went to the beach and while seeing what was happening they shouted "Great is the God of Christians ». The idolater sovereign, seeing the Saint coming out alive from the sea, believed that Reginos was saved via magic. The friend of Reginos, Orestis, declared the Christ and many from the idolaters believed in Christ. The disrespectful Prezentinos ordered to arrest Reginos, Orestis and many of those that became Christians, they put them in the prison until the next day in order to it decide the way to kill them in order to punish them.
In the prison Reginos taught the new Christians the truths of the Gospel and fixed them in faith and in death for Christ. In this cheerful and intellectual meeting in prison he dominated the courage and the hot faith to the real God and the prayer of the prisoners became warmer, waiting for help from God, which came very soon. At the dawn, that the prayer reached the climax, an angel from God came, he opened the doors of prison, they and were all free and each one followed the way led by God. Saint Reginos and Orestis and certain others, led by the charm of God, came to Cyprus, where idolatry was still controlling people, roughly the third person, or the fourth century, when all these happened. When the team of these faithful people reached Cyprus, they were spread out in various places and had a hermit life far away from the world. The brave Reginos and his friend Orestis followed the missionary way. They reached Neapolis of Limassol and they declare Christianity . They finally reached the village Fasoula, 8 kilometers from Limassol. In the village existed a center of idolatry, as it appears from the old ruins discovered. There the residents of the region arrested them, they tortured them and decapitated them.
Some Christians, that secretly watched what happened, went there, and took the Saints to bury them.
They have passed a lot of years since then and Christianity took the place of idolatry. Then as it is reported in old Christian books, the Saints appeared in the dream of a priest, where they indicated him the place where their grave was found. The priest searched they place indicated to him by the Saints and he found the holy including sheath of their relic. Above the sheath of their relic, the names of the Saints were written, according always to old Christian books. The priest in order to honor the two Saints, he built a great temple in their name , and painted also a picture which he placed in the temple. Today this great temple is spoiled, but according to the foundations of the initial temple its walls were built with stones having a height of 2 meters. At this place, every year at the 20 th of August, the community of Fasoula is celebrating and many people visit the place to honor the Saints and to thank them for the miracles they have done, always with the charm of God.
Under the flooring of the initial temple it exists a vaulted cavern, where it is still found the sheath of the relic of the Saints.
The Agios Reginos and Orestis are honored so much in the community of Fasoula and all around the island of Cyprus. Except from Fasoula, the Saints are honored particularly in the village Apliki of Nicosia, and in the village Tremithousa of Paphos where there are temples dedicated to them. Our Church honors the memory of Agios Reginos and Orestis on the 20 th of August.
South-west of the village, about eight hundred metres from its centre, there is an area of high archaeological value, known as “Kastros”. The first settlement of Fasoula was developed in this area.
On one of the area’s hillocks there is a temple dedicated to Zeus the Lavranios. This area, that is, the hillock’s crest where the temple is built is known as “Zeus’s Moutti (nose)” or “Zeus’s Crest”.
Ten inscriptions “carved at the basis of statues” have been found at this place. All the inscriptions were part of dedications to Zeus the Lavranios. The inscriptions date back to the 2nd century A.C. known as the Roman Times.
What is noteworthy is that at the time Christianity was already prevailing in the island. This leads to the conclusion that Fasoula was one of the “last pillars of strength of idolatry”.
During ancient times, most probably, the area was under the rule of the Amathounta kingdom. This claim is based on the geographical position of Fasoula. In other words, it is based on the vicinity of the village with the Amathounta Kingdom.
“Kastros” area as mentioned above was the oldest settlement in Fasoula. This is proven by a series of findings, brought to light by archaeological discoveries. Earlier researchers of the area consider “Zeus’s Moutti” (nose) as the citadel of the ancient settlement.
The abovementioned researchers’ claim is grounded on the geographical position of the area. Moutti, in specific, is geographically entrenched which is why earlier archaeologists have identified the Moutti area with the settlement’s citadel. One of the researchers who support this claim is G. Jeffrey, who relies on the description given by the 1883“Journal American Oriental Society”. Despite the aforementioned, this claim is challenged by contemporary researchers who assert that “there is no evidence pointing to the existence of a citadel, where citadel carries the meaning of an ancient citadel”. What cannot be argued is the fact that Zeus’s temple, whether Moutti was a citadel or nor, assigns great importance to the area. Without dispute, the temple was “impressive enough and was built in a prominent location”.
Excursionist Gunnis, one of the supporters of the existence of a citadel at the Moutti area, adds that there was a Roman fortress in the area. This claim also explains the name given to the area “Kastro” which means castle in Greek, even though it contradicts the view that the ruins found in the area do not belong to the Roman fortress but to Lavranio Zeus’s temple.
Moreover, as Gunnis mentions, during his tour he “saw quite a few large headless statues” and some of the statues’ heads he saw in a villager’s house”.
In conclusion, the existence of a castle or a tower in the area should not be considered an improbable possibility at least in a later period since the name “Kastros” (castle) is used. More specifically, it is believed that there was a tower in the area, which was the home of an atheling during the middle Ages.
Grand Cypriot Encyclopaedia vol. 13
The church of Panayia Chryseleousis (Virgin Mary Chryseleousis) located at the community’s ceremony was built before the church dedicated to the Nativity of Theotokos. This church was deserted in the 20th century. The only reminders of its existence are the four half-dejected external walls of the church.
Any equipment that belonged to the church was carried to the church dedicated to the Nativity of Theotokos. The church is now an ancient monument and it is under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities. The community’s future plans include the reconstruction of the church.
The village has a number of churches such as the church dedicated to the Nativity of Theotokos (Virgin Mary), the church of Panayia Chryseleousis (Virgin Mary Chryseleousis) as well as many chapels like the chapel of Saint Dimitrios, Saint George, Saint Marina and Saints Orestis and Riginos. What is noteworthy is the village’s important monument of Christianity, the tomb of Saint Riginos who is the patron saint of the community. A short description of all churches and chapels will follow.
Church dedicated to the Nativity of Theotokos
The church dedicated to the Nativity of Theotokos (Virgin Mary) is located at the village’s centre. It is the community’s most important church. The church is also known as the church of Panayia (Virgin Mary) Chryseleousis. The church’s construction began in the beginning of the 20th century and was completed, according to the inscription, in the 1920s.
The church is made of stone, in specific, a kind of stone particular to the area. According to oral tradition, the church was built from stones that the Christians carried from the area of Kamila. At the centre of the church, an impressive dome ends at the east side of the church forming a semicircular arch. The church’s roof, except the dome, is covered with tiles. At the end of the 20th century the whole of the roof was repaired, that is, old tiles were replaced with new ones of the same type.
Internally, the church is decorated by a woodcut iconostasis made by Costas Kaouranis at the beginning of the 21st century. This woodcut iconostasis replaced the old one, which was made out of stone and thus was not decorated in any way. The iconostasis is slightly elevated, that is, it is not built on the same level as the rest of the temple. The main feature of the iconostasis is its icons, which are all made in the same style. The icons that were part of the stone iconostasis are kept at the church’s sanctuary.
The church has a women’s loft, which is common in orthodox churches. Steps lead to the loft which used to lead to the belfry. The church can hold up to 200 people, which is quite satisfying for the village’s needs.
St George’s Chapel
South-west of the village is a deserted small chapel dedicated to Saint George.
Internally, there is only a vigil candle as well as an icon placed on a stone.
Saints Riginos and Orestis Chapel
The chapel of Saints Riginos and Orestis stands on the north end of the village.
The chapel was rebuilt rather recently, specifically at the end of the 20th century. Internally the chapel is decorated with a simple iconostasis with portable icons. According to R. Gunnis, in 1935, there was a deserted church inside a cave. On the wall of this deserted church, as Gunnis adds, there was a fig tree which “Kitchener in 1882” wanted to cut down so the island’s charting would be facilitated. In the end, villagers “persuaded” him not to cut the fig tree and “built a special platform on it”.
According to tradition, Saints Riginos and Orestis visited the island to indoctrinate Christianity. The Idolater habitats of the island arrested the two Saints and after torturing them, they beheaded them. Christians who were present at this martyrdom secretly collected the holy relics and buried them at the island.
Saint Riginos’ tomb is in Fasoula, next to the Saints Riginos and Orestis Chapel. His grave’s exact location was revealed to a priest when the Saint appeared to him through a dream.
What is important to note is the fact that the place where the Christians decided to bury the Saint was probably a lord’s tomb. This is concluded by paintings, which can be distinguished even today on the tomb. One of them depicts a hunter in the woods. According to Gunnis, this sarcophagus “definitely belongs to the 5th century”.
What needs to be mentioned is that R. Gunnis consider the abovementioned tomb as belonging to Archbishop Riginos and not Saint Riginos. However, his claim does not seem valid since Archbishop Riginos’s Episcopal see was in Konstantia at the east side of the island thus, it would be impossible for him to be buried in Fasoula.
The Saint’s relic is connected to a series of miracles. His tomb is under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities. According to Oral Tradition, the Saint had protected the village when it was in danger. This is why he is the patron Saint of the village of Fasoula. His holly relic was transferred to the monastery of Saint Prodromos in Skopelos.
Every year on the 20th august, that is, the celebration of Saint Riginos, the greatest feast takes place in Fasoula at the chapel’s precinct. The rest of the year, the chapel celebrates only baptisms.
More information can be found on the page referring to Saint Riginos.
Ayia Marina (Saint Marina) Chapel
The Ayia Marina chapel lies at the north side of the village. It is built out of stone and the roof is covered with tiles. An old icon of Saint John is kept in the church. The icon is believed to belong to the 18th century.
The first school of the village was housed in the Ayia Marina chapel. In specific, according to villagers the chapel used to function as a school from the 40’s to the 60’s.
Ayia Marina’s chapel celebrates Mass two to three times a year.
Ayios Dimitrios (Saint Dimitrios) Chapel
Ayios Dimitrios’s chapel was built in the end of the 20th century. The chapel was built under an inhabitant’s care, Ionannis Spanias. Ioannis Spanias used to go around the village collecting money for the chapel’s construction.
The village’s inhabitants eagerly contributed to this cause, and not only was the chapel quickly constructed but also an iconostasis was placed in the chapel.
Mr. Georgiades Giannakis
Grand Cypriot Encyclopaedia Vol. 13
(Main Source: http://www.fasoula.org)