The Church of Cyprus is one of the oldest autocephalous Orthodox churches. Under the Ottoman Empire it was recognized as the only political authority of the Christian population regardless of its denomination. The privileges gained over time made the Church of Cyprus powerful in terms of influence in all aspects of life on the island.
The incident which interrupted that tranquil symbiosis was the execution of the Cypriot Archbishop in 1821. That summer Archbishop Kyprianos and three Bishops were paradigmatically hanged because they disobeyed the direct order of the Sultan (Ottoman Empire) not to interfere in the Greek War of Independence. The event marked the beginning of a growing separation between the two cultural and religious communities of the island.
After 1878, when Cyprus was leased to the British, Cyprus Church was granted more freedom in religious practices. However the new rulers limited the Church’s jurisdiction on certain social, cultural and administrative issues.
The October 1931 riots had as the main demand the union (énosis) with Greece and culminated the tension between the two parts (see category union (énosis)). In 1950 Makarios III was elected Archbishop and undertook intense social and political activity supporting the union (énosis) goal. He became the political leader of the EOKA 1955-59 (see category EOKA 1955-59) struggle and the first President of the Democracy of Cyprus in 1960, when the island was granted independence.