The Paintings in the Church of the Panagia Chrysospiliotissa
(Παναγια Χρυσοσπηλιωτισσα) at Kato Devtera (Nicosia)
1.1 The paintings were inspected in March 2000. They represent the survival of just a fraction of the complete cycle of decoration at this important rock-cut chapel which is still a major pilgrimage site. The chapel is situated in the face of a rocky outcrop above the flood plain of the river Pedieos and can only be reached via a steep staircase similar to the entrance to Agios Neophytos Monastery outside Paphos. Structural problems exist because of the erosion of the cliff face which are currently being investigated by Milton Demosthenos.
1.2 It was reported to me that many other paintings were still in situ during the 1950s, but were partly destroyed by the action of British troops when searching for arms held, they believed, by EOKA.
1.3 The soft nature of the tufa-like material out of which the rock-cut chapel has been created, and the action of the damp, has further added to their deterioration. The plaster on which they are painted has clearly fallen away from the surface of the cave leaving just these fragments as witness of their importance.
1.4 The paintings in the chapel are so far unpublished and the exact date of the foundation of the chapel is not known. The paintings are believed to date from the late thirteenth century or early fourteenth century by most of the scholars who have inspected them.
2. The Paintings
2.1 The paintings are in a poor state of preservation and are previous unpublished. Graffiti (mostly initials representing names) have been scratched into the surface of the paintings which has exposed the plaster beneath. The scratches have subsequently been painted over and filled in matching colours to the background. The area immediately surrounding the fragmentary wall paintings has been reinforced using white lime plaster.
2.2 Three large figures of saints are visible behind the iconostasis of the current chapel of the church on the concave almost apsidal wall on the south side of the sanctuary. These were labelled Triphilios, Rpiphanios and Barnabas.  All three display plaster in their haloes forming patterns of rosettes and joining tendrils of a similar design to icons from the Church of the Panagia tou Moutoulla.  The wall on which they are painted is coloured red and it displays irregular annular stars of seven and eight points. This is an unusual feature which may derive from Western European sources.
2.3 Above them to the right the much smaller scene of the Transfiguration is painted. Christ in the centre and Moses and Elijah are still visible on either side. Of the saints Peter, James, and John, normally visible at the foot of this scene, only the halo of one on the left and the head of the central figure remains, but almost all the cowering figures of one of the saints on the right has survived.
2.4 The scene is set against a red background within a plain discoloured border. That it was part of a larger cycle is demonstrated by the survival of part of a scene to the right which would have contained the Raising of Lazarus, now identified only by a fragmentary inscription. Η ΕΓΕΡΣΗΣ [ΤΟΥ ΛΑΖΑΡΟΥ].
2.5 On the lower part of the wall at dado level fragments of red and white chequered decoration survives.
3. Art-historical Context
3.1 The paintings may be compared with late thirteenth century work at the Church of the Panagia tou Moutoulla dated by inscription to 1280, the donor being one Iohannis tou Moutoulla or Iohannis Gerakiotis (ΓερακιοτηV).  Similar red backgrounds are used in this church although the figures are heavier and more substantial in the paintings at Moutoullas. 
3.2 Closer in style to the paintings at the Chrysopilaiotissa is an icon from the same church which depicts St. John the Baptist.  It has similar raised patterned work in its haloes and a thinner and more emaciated figure style which fits better with the style at the Chrysopilaiotissa.
3.3 The cycle to which the Scenes of the Transfiguration and the Raising of Lazarus belong is relatively common in Byzantine and Cypriote painting of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Saints depicted, however, suggest a local interest, particularly in St. Triphilios (or Triphyllos), Bishop of Nicosia which needs further research.
4. Preliminary Conclusions
4.1 It is not possible to draw any mature conclusions about the paintings without further work. Detailed photography of the entire site is required.
4.2 Immediate inspection of the paintings by a qualified conservation team is an urgent necessity.
Dr. M. A. Michael F.S.A
 St. Triphilios was a local bishop: C. Duval Cobham The Churches and Saints of Cyprus (London, 1910), citing St. Triphyllos of ‘Leucadii’; H. Delehaye, ‘Saints de Chypre’, Analecta Bollandiana 26 (1907), 239-241, 260; J. Hackett, The Churches of Cyprus (London, 1900), 327, 388; F. Bustron in R. de Mas Latrie (ed.), Chroniques (Paris, 1884), 26; Machaeras, Leontios, in Sethas & Muller, edd., Chronikon Kyprou (Paris, 1882), 2 vols, 18.
 See, for instance, the design of the halo on the Icon of Christ from Moutoullas, reproduced in N. Patterson Sĕvcenko & C. Moss, Medieval Cyprus: Studies in art, architecture and history in memory of Doula Mouriki (Princeton, 1999), plate 9.
 D. Mouriki, ‘The Wallpaintings of the Church of the Panagia at Moutoullas, Cyprus’ in I. Hutter (ed.), Byzanz und der Western. Studien zur Kunst des europäischen Mittelalters, Österrichisches Akademis der Wissenschaften (Vienna, 1984), 171-213. Raising of Lazarus, fig. 12, St Paul fig. 22. I should like to thank Professor Robin Cormack for first suggesting that I look at this church for comparisons.
 For recent colour photography of this church including the scene of the Raising of Lazarus, see A. Papageorghiou, ‘Panagia tou Moutoulla’ in E. Raptou & M. Cole, edd., Αρχαιολογικοι χωροι και μνημεια τηV Κυπρου στον καταλογο τηV παγκοσμιαV πολιτιστικηV κληρονομιαV (World Heritage Sites in Cyprus) (Nicosia, 1999), 54-59 and E. Hein, A. Jakovljević and B. Kleidt Cyprus, Byzantine Churches and Monasteries, Mosaics and Frescoes (Ratingen, 1998), 100-102. See also Andreas and Judith Stylianou The Painted Churches of Cyprus (London, 1985 and 1999), 323-329.
 See P. L. Vocotopoulos, ‘Three Thirteenth-Century Icons at Moutoullas’ in N. Patterson Sĕvcenko & C. Moss (1999), 161-177 and A. Papageorghiou, ‘The Byzantine Art of Cyprus (12th-15th centuries)’ in D. Papanikola-Bakirtzis & M. Iacovou, edd., Byzantine Medieval Cyprus (Nicosia, 1998), 110, cat. 50.