In the central Troodos Mountains, on a promontory at the edge of Pelendri (Limassol district) at 850m a.s.l. The settlement of Pelendri is attested since the late 12th century [Papacostas (1999a) 6.C.74].
Description: The original structure is of uncertain type. The depiction of the Deesis in the apse may imply that the original church was a vaulted rather than domed structure (i.e. no depiction of Christ in a dome), perhaps serving the village cemetery (as the location of the church and the proliferation of later medieval funerary portraits and inscriptions suggests). Only the apse survives from the original structure, and perhaps the lower parts of the present domed central nave in the later three-aisled church, which was built of local sideropetra with the use of some brick. The original apse decoration, that revealed the age of the church, was discovered under a later layer. It consists of a rather crude and damaged Deesis [a unique surviving example on Cyprus; cf. Apsinthiotissa] with a large bust of Christ flanked by small standing figures of the Virgin and John the Baptist, officiating prelates below, and a dedicatory inscription over the window and the officiating prelates: ANAK(AI)NIΘH K(AI) ZOΓΡAΦHΘH [E]NTHMOC NAOC T(OΥ) THMHOΥ K(AI) ΠΡOCK[H] || NHTOΥ CT(AΥΡOΥ) ΔIA CHΔΡOMHC K(AI) ΠOΘOΥ ΓEΩΡΓIOΥ HEΡEOC KE T(ON) ΔE ΛHΠON || HEΡEON • KE ΠE[ . ] XOΡH(OΥ) ΠEΛETΡHON • EZOΓΡAΦHΘH ΔE Δ[I] || EMOΥ ΧHΡOC [AMAΡ(?)]TOΛOΥ KE TAΠHNOΥ [ . . . . ]OΥ T(OΥ) MONMAΧ || OΥ • EΥΧECTE A[Υ . . . ΔH(?) . ] T(ON) K(ΥΡIO)N O Θ(EO)C CHΧ[OΡ(?) . . . ]N AΥT(OΥ)C AMH[N] || : ET(OΥ)C Ϛ Χ Π ‘[The] honourable church of the holy and reverend Cross was renovated and painted through [the] donation and desire of George the priest and of the other priests. And ... of [the] village of Peletrea. And it was painted by my hand, the sinful and humble [abbreviated name in genitive] Mon[o]machos. Pray for ... the Lord God forgive them Amen. In the year 6680.’ Although in the brief published reports [ARDA 1989: 25-26; BCH 114 (1990) 983-85] the inscription date is given as AD 1178 (i.e. 6686), the surviving evidence suggests 6680, i.e. AD 1171/72. Such cases of collective patronage are also known during the same period on Cyprus from a manuscript of 1193 which was offered to the church of Sebouriatissa by local priests and villagers [Constantinides and Browning (1993) 94-96]. The conch Deesis is among the earliest dated examples of a large scene with red ground [frequent in the 13th century: see Mouriki (1984) 204, Mouriki (1985/86) 25-26]. A late 12th-century icon of Christ brought to the Cross (Elkomenos) originates from the church: although it is perhaps contemporary with the apse decoration, its style is very different [Evans and Wixom (1997) 126-27 with further bibliography].
Dating: a terminus ante quem in c.1170 is furnished by the apse inscription [a 10th-12th century date was already suggested in Soteriou (1931a) 484].
Later additions / alterations: The original church was replaced (?) in the 13th / early 14th century by a dome-hall structure incorporating the 12th-century apse. A vaulted north chapel was added in the 14th century, while in the late 15th / early 16th century the south aisle with apse was built and arches were opened along the nave walls. The south aisle apse was replaced by a straight wall perhaps following its collapse, and the north wall was rebuilt. The church was redecorated and its main fresco cycle is dated to the late 14th-century date (nave); it includes various funerary and donor fresco panels of later medieval (14th-16th century) date [Stylianou (1960) 107-9, Stylianou (1985) 223-32, Stylianou (1996) 1301-7; MKE 12, 318-19].
Modern repairs: The church was ‘carefully restored’ in the early 20th century [Gunnis (1936) 372]. The walls were repaired in the early 1970s in order to protect the frescoes which were consolidated [ARDA 1971,10, 1972, 12; AD 29 (1973/74) 1014]. In the 1980s and early 1990s a campaign to consolidate, clean and treat the frescoes was carried out: the later layer was removed from the apse to the south aisle, revealing the earlier decoration with the 12th-century dated inscription [ARDA 1982, 18, 1983, 19, 1985, 22, 1987, 23, 1988, 23-24, 1989, 25-26, 1990, 27, 1991, 24; BCH 114 (1990) 983-85; Karageorghis (1990) 28-29].
Early literature: Although Enlart is not known to have been to Lagoudera, his description of Pelendri’s external appearance (1896) with broad eaves and a dome covered by ‘steep pitched roof’ recalls more the former than the latter church [Enlart/Hunt (1987) 352-53]. The church is mentioned mainly because of the Lusignan donor couple and coat-of-arms in the north aisle [Jeffery (1918) 365-66; Gunnis (1936) 372-75].