Cyprus’ Archbishop Wants to Convert Folk House to Church Museum

Αssociated press

The leader of Cyprus' Greek Orthodox Church Archbishop Chrysostomos. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA - Archbishop Chrysostomos’ plan to turn the House of Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios folk museum  into a church museum for the 2012 bicentennial celebrations of the Greek Revolution has drawn a fierce backlash on Cyprus.

Media reports said a new group online swiftly picked up 1500 followers on Facebook to protest the idea to convert the the Kornesios homestead that is a tourist attraction operated as an ethnological museum, where the residence of an Ottoman-era local councilor is on display for visitors and history tours.

Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios served as dragoman, an official interpreter for the Sultan’s council, from 1779 until his execution by beheading in 1809 after an assistant and accomplice wrongly accused him of mishandling funds.

The people and the clergy held Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios in high esteem, earning him power and riches that he didn’t use for his personal benefit and it was said he contributed to the protection of Christians and lepers, offered financial and moral support to the Church of Cyprus and promoted education.

Cypriot media, said Kathimerini Cyprus, reported the Archbishop wants to make the conversion into a church museum this year after reports emerged that the Church, which owns the building, did not wish to renew their contract with the Antiquities Department.

Chrysostomos said the Church had no use for the Kornesios House in the last two years, after the contract had expired so didn’t raise the issue until now.

The decision is reportedly part of a wider effort to establish historic temples as well as the Kornesios House as visiting attractions in a network for tours under the banner of celebrating 200 years from the start of the Greek Revolution in 1821.

But a group of local architects, who oppose the Church’s decision, created the Facebook page to seek support in putting together a plan to counter the effort.

According to Philenews, the group Respect For The House Of Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios believes the Church took the decision based on “bad advice” given to Archbishop Chrysostomos, who told a TV station critics always oppose the Church and as he said that the historic significance of the site would be protected anyway.