Hermitage of St. Neophytos

Date: Second half of the twelfth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Cyprus
Description: The hermitage of a man named Neophytos is cut into the face of a steep cliff north of Paphos (Cyprus). It includes a chapel dedicated to the Holy Cross and Neophytos's private cell (with storage niches, a bed shelf, and his own tomb), as well as the refectory and rock-cut cells that had to be added once the community around the holy hermit began to grow. Neophytos's typikon for this monastic community sets the maximum number of monks to eighteen. The typikon also mentions that paintings were added in his twenty-fourth year there, which would have been 1183. The decorative program from the hermit's lifetime is largely intact.

In the naos, Neophytos displayed the cross relic he had acquired by hollowing out an east-facing niche to hold a gilded wooden cross with a cavity at its center. Above and flanking the cross are two angelic deacons, and above them, appropriately, is a fresco of the Crucifixion. A female personification of the New Testament catches in a chalice the water that pours from Christ’s right side, while on the other side a poorly preserved personification of the Old Testament is pushed away by an angel.

Relevant Primary Sources
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 8
Image Credits: Linda Safran, Navid Jamali

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Hermitage of Neophytos, bema of the chapel, two archangels escorting Neophytos Hermitage of Neophytos, hermit's cell, Neophytos praying before a a monumental Deesis Hermitage of Neophytos, bema with Pantokrator on ceiling (right), naos and reverse of screen (left) Hermitage of Neophytos, screen between naos and bema of the chapel Hermitage of Neophytos, naos of the chapel, Neophytos and monks with haloes Hermitage of Neophytos, naos of the chapel, ceiling with shaft for Neophytos to observe the liturgy Hermitage of Neophytos, plan and section Neophytos Typikon, (U of Edinburgh Library, MS 224), 1213 Neophytos Typikon, (U of Edinburgh Library, MS 224), 1213 Neophytos Typikon, (U of Edinburgh Library, MS 224), 1213, colophon