Artist: Andreas Thymopoulos
Location: Saint John Cathedral, forecourt of the old Archbishopric Palace, Nicosia. Nicosia district
Dimensions: ~3.5 meters
Category: Cypriot Church, Union (énosis), Public sculpture before 1960
Photography: Evangelia Matthopoulou
The initiative for the bust was taken by the Archbishop’s relatives and the unveiling took place on December 13th 1909.
Sofronios was known for his mild character, his realistic approach to the political situation in Cyprus and, consequently, his willingness to co-exist in peace with the British rulers of the island. However, this attitude of his caused discomfort among the Cypriots and was perceived as a compromise and a deficit of fighting spirit, in discordance to the Greek Cypriot ideals of official union (énosis) with Greece.
To counterbalance this impression, it was attributed to him the phrase written on the pedestal: “British rulers we accept for now your presence, eagerly waiting the time when the white robed liberty will shine at Evagoras’ glorious land” (Βρεττανοί στέργομεν τώρα την των Άγγλων κατοχήν αναμένοντες την ώρα μ’ ανυπόμονον ψυχήν που θα λάμψη λευκοφόρα η θεά μας λευθεριά στου λαμπρού μας Ευαγόρα την αφρόλουστη στεριά).
This phrase was supposedly addressed to the First British High Commissioner and Commander-in-Chief, Sir Garret Wolseley, when he arrived in Larnaka in 1878. However, according to historical sources this position, in general lines, was expressed by the Kition Bishop Kyprianos Ikonomidis who was attending the arrival ceremony. On the contrary Sofronios expressed to Sir Wolseley his wish for equal rights and duties, stating the Cypriots’ devotion to the new ruler.
~ Filippou Loizos, Η Εκκλησία της Κύπρου επί Τουρκοκρατίας (Cypriot Church during the British rule), Nicosia 1975.
~ Hackett John, Ιστορία της Ορθοδόξου Εκκλησίας της Κύπρου (A history of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus: from the coming of the apostles Paul and Barnabas to the commencement of the British occupation), vol.1, Athens 1923.
~ Koudounaris Aristidis, Βιογραφικόν λεξικόν Κυπρίων 1800-1920 (Biographical dictionary of Cupriots 1800-1920), Nicosia 2010.
~ Zannetos Filios, Ιστορία της νήσου Κύπρου από της Αγγλικής κατοχής μέχρι σήμερον (History of Cyprus from the time of British rule till today), vol. 2 & 3. Larnaka 1911-1912
~ Αλήθεια (Alithia), January 1, 1910, p. 1.
~ Κυπριακός Φύλαξ (Kypriakos Filax), December 19, 1909. p. 1.