Chapel of Saint Vrieni
Saint Vrieni or otherwise Vrioni is a Cypriot saint who is honoured at the village of Mandria in the district of Paphos. In Mandria there is a church dedicated to Saint Vrieni which is the one and only in the world dedicated to this Saint.
Until 1963-64 the village of Mandria in Paphos was a mixed village, inhabited by both Greeks and Turks. In 1960 the village had 404 inhabitants. The Turkish Cypriots amounted to 329 and the Greek Cypriots to 79. With the bi-communal clashes between Greeks and Turks in Cyprus in 1963-1964, the Greek inhabitants left the village and the village became a Turkish enclave and Greeks could not go there. In 1974 the Turkish Cypriots left and went to the occupied areas. The village was settled by Greek Cypriot refugees who came from the north. The village is next to the sea and close to the city of Paphos. It is also one of the most productive villages in Cyprus. The village had a church dedicated to Saints Andronikos and Athanasia (which has now been rebuilt), and five chapels dedicated to Saint Heliodorus, Saint Evresi, Saint Evlogius, Saint Angona (Arkona) and Saint Vrieni or Vrioni.
After 1963, when the Greek Cypriots left and the Turkish Cypriots remained, they were all destroyed. None of all these chapels remain any longer except the chapel of Saint Vryoni which has been rebuild by a refugee family from the village of Assia, after visions, when the Saint showed where the ruins of her chapel were situated.
The chapel of Saint Vrieni was attacked three times by the Turkish Cypriot inhabitants of the village. In 1975, along with the refugees who came to Mandria after the Turkish invasion there was also a woman from Assia, Mrs. Stavroula. At that time, nothing had remained in the village to remind people of the chapel, whose ruins were hidden under the earth. However, one night, a woman clad in black presented herself to Mrs. Stavroula in her sleep who indicated to her a spot near the sea. While pointing out the spot she told her: “You see these foundation?” A chapel is to be found therel. Go and find it. The next day she went to the place she dreamed about, and after digging the earth she found the foundations of the old chapel of Saint Vrieni. In 1986 the inaugurations of the new chapel were made. It was built high on a hill above a cave south of the village.
One of the most famous legends concerning the church of Saint Vrieni recounts that while a boat was located off the coast of Cyprus, a great storm suddenly broke out. Looking for a shelter to save his ship, the captain approached the coast. But the tempest drove the ship to Mandria. The captain and the sailors of the ship been aware of the risk of crashing on the rocks, begged the icon of Saint Vrieni, which was kept on board, to save them. They even promise that if the saint saved them, they would built a church in her honour. Saint Vrieni heard the prayers of the seamen and the storm abated. The captain, in order to show his gratitude for been saved along with his men, kept the promise he made and built a small chapel in the name of Saint Vrieni near the sea.
Saint Vrieni seems to be very miraculous, since with her various miracles, year after year, the number of her pilgrims increase significantly. In the community of Mandria Saint Vrieni is greatly honoured, since she has saved the lives of many people, even those with cancer.
The memory of Saint Vrieni is celebrated on August 30th where there is also a feast and many believers come to her chapel this day, not only from the community but also from the surrounding area, to pray to her. The faithful also come daily to light a candle and pray.