NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus’ president says Pope Francis has accepted his invitation to visit the east Mediterranean island nation next year.
President Nicos Anastasiades made the announcement after talks with the pontiff in the Vatican on Monday.
In 2020, Cyprus will mark the 60th year of its independence from British colonial rule and a decade since Pope Benedict XVI travelled to the island, the first pontiff to do so.
Cyprus was the initial stop on Saint Paul’s first journey to spread Christianity in the 1st Century A.D. and he converted the island’s then Roman governor Sergius Paulus to the faith.
Cyprus is also linked with Saint Lazarus — the man who according to Christian scriptures was resurrected by Jesus. Fearing persecution, Lazarus fled to Cyprus and was appointed a bishop.