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Church of Timios Stavros - Holy Cross

The Kouris Valley, about 20 minutes from Lemesos (Limassol), has a number of important Byzantine monuments. They include the 12th century church of the Monastery of Panagia tis Amasgou (Our Lady of Damascus), the church of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross) at Kouka village and the monastic church of Archangelos Michail (Archangel Michael) at Monagri.

The church of the Holy Cross in Kouka is a cruciform Byzantine building with a dome over the transept. The church is associated with the legend of the Holy Cross and on the north side is a small square chamber probably built to contain the original relic of the church, which was a quantity of sawdust from the Cross when it was sawn into pieces on the order of St Helena.

In AD325 St Helena travelled to Jerusalem at the request of her son Emperor Constantine I, and while there she claimed to have discovered the true Cross and the crosses of the two thieves.

In AD327 she embarked for Rome taking substantial pieces of the crosses with her together with an amount of sawdust obtained from dismantling the True Cross. The story goes that she stopped in Cyprus and during her stay on the island she deposited a small quantity of the sawdust in Kouka.

More famously one of the crosses is said to have been moved by miraculous means to the mountain of Stavrovouni where a monastery was subsequently built.

There are some remains of painting on the roof and walls of the north transept, and there is an unusual 17th Century icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a bronze medallion of the Virgin and Child in the centre.

The church was once surrounded by monastery buildings, but all that now remains is a building to the west that formerly contained an olive press.