The church is situated in the Karpas peninsula at Lythrankome (Famagusta district). The settlement may be identified with late antique Erythra kome, attested in the 7th-century Life of Saint Spyridon [Van den Ven (1953) 52*, 56, 119 and 158; Megaw and Hawkins (1977) 3, n.13 and 4-5 on the late medieval period]. A monastery on the site is attested in Ottoman times [Kyprianos (1788) 392; Kyriazes (1950) 122-23].
Description: A timber roofed (?) three-aisled pier basilica with clerestory, three apses (?) and tower (?) over the bema, was erected over a 5th-century column basilica after the latter’s destruction (mid-7th century?) incorporating its apse with the well known 6th-century mosaic [Megaw and Hawkins (1977) 15; Papageorgiou (1966a) 221 and Papageorgiou (1968a) 12, suggests that the pier basilica was vaulted, although see also Papageorgiou (1982a) 469-70; S. Ćurčić also argues for a vaulted scheme, based on the massive wall enclosing the bema and the outward leaning of piers and walls, not caused by earthquake, as suggested by Megaw and Hawkins: Speculum 55 (1980) 813]. The piers were strengthened, the aisles were rebuilt and vaulted, the nave was also vaulted and a dome was erected over its central part, while a drumless dome was built over the bema before the apse, and a five-bay domed narthex was erected to the west [Megaw and Hawkins (1977) 11-36].
Dating: A century700 date for pier basilica is suggested by the architecture (piers, bema enclosed within lateral walls). A 12th-century date for the vaulted and domed phase and the narthex may be suggested by the architecture (round arches, cavity in bema dome) and the fragments of damaged decoration, and has been related to earthquakes recorded in the wide region in c.1160 [Megaw and Hawkins (1977) 30-35].
Later additions / alterations: Repairs of unknown nature were perhaps undertaken in the 9th century, if the very damaged fragmentary painted inscription on the southwest pier which mentions the deacon John, the archbishop Theodore (not attested otherwise), the patriarch (?) Solomon of Jerusalem (c. 860-65) and a certain Eustathius (?), refers indeed to building work [Mango in Megaw and Hawkins (1977) 147-48, although see also Ruggieri (1991) 268, n.361 for reservations which have been expressed more recently by Mango]. After the collapse of the south aisle, it was rebuilt with a higher vault and a porch was added before the south doorway (13th century). The nave dome was rebuilt in the late medieval period when the arches were also underpinned, and it was repaired in 1779. A bell tower was added over the west doorway of the narthex in 1888. The church was ‘restored’ in 1920 when the synthronon-like structure in the apse (straight steps and throne) was destroyed [Gunnis (1936) 332; MKE 6, 231-33; Megaw and Hawkins (1977) 35-36].
Modern repairs: General repairs were made in the 1940s-60s. The arch in front of the apse and the later buttressing walls around it were removed, the structure was consolidated, the south porch was repaired, the buttresses were removed, the narthex and roof were repaired (revealing clerestory windows), the narthex-naos door lintel was replaced, the bell tower over the narthex doorway was rebuilt in the northwest corner, and the west recesses and the dome windows of the narthex were unblocked [ARDA 1949, 12, 1950, 12, 1954, 12, 1966, 9; Papageorgiou (1968a) 12-15].
Early literature: The church was visited (and drawn) by Drummond in 1750, and was briefly mentioned by Hogarth in 1888. The apse mosaic was described by Smirnov in 1895, and the architecture by Enlart in 1896 [Cobham (1908) 304; Hogarth (1889) 71-72; Smirnov (1897); Enlart/Hunt (1987) 308-9; see also Jeffery (1918) 261-63].
Views: Byzantine Cyprus 267 [drawing by Drummond (1750), showing the nave drum with the dome missing and the west façade of the narthex without the later buttresses, although the latter were thought to have been added in the 13th century: Megaw and Hawkins (1977) 35]; Soteriou (1935) pl. 32-33 [before the repairs].
Plan/section : Enlart/Hunt (1987) 309 and Enlart (1926) 137 [inaccurate plan]; Soteriou (1935) 31-33 [showing only two building phases]; Megaw (1974) 77 [section of the reconstructed pier basilica]; Megaw and Hawkins (1977) figs. B-H. [detailed plans and sections of the earlier phases and the present building].