In the ancient coastal city of Citium / modern Larnaca (Larnaca district), an episcopal see since Late Antiquity and cult centre of Lazarus of Bethany (whose relic was translated from Cyprus to Constantinople in 901). The cult is first attested in the late medieval period [Papacostas (1995) Gazetteer 6]. A no longer surviving church (Theotokos?) is recorded in the city during the 8th century [Papacostas (1999a) 6.B.II.7].
Description: The unusually large multi-domed basilica-like structure consists of a sequence of three domed cross-in-square units, and is clearly related to the church of Saint Barnabas. The dome bases are irregular, the three apses polygonal, and the arches and vaults semi-circular with spolia capitals at their springing. The church was built in large rough ashlar blocks over a Hellenistic / Roman cemetery and a colonnaded structure [Roman temple: BCH 97 (1973) 624; early Christian basilica: Megaw (1986) 516]. No original windows or doors are preserved, apart perhaps from the upper windows of the cross arm façades. The interior was originally lit by a double tier of tall windows [Megaw (1974) 79; Papageorgiou (1982a) 471, Papageorgiou (1985a) 326-27; Wharton (1988) 66-67].
Dating: An 11th / early 12th century date may be proposed on the basis of the use of the cross-in-square unit, the combination of a five-sided main apse with three-sided lateral apses [as at Saint Philon], and the style of the surviving fragments of opus sectile floor [Michaelides (1993) 78; on earlier dating suggestions see Papacostas (1995) 29-35 and Gazetteer 6.d, and Chotzakoglou (2005) 490-491].
Later additions / alterations: A Gothic portico was added along the south façade in the 15th / 16th century [MKE 8, 174-75]. The domes were were removed or collapsed in the late 17th / early 18th century [see travellers’ accounts below], perhaps after an earthquake [one was recorded in 1718: Oberhummer (1903) 144]. The windows were altered in 1689 and 1882 (these dates carved on the windows of the north façade). An elaborate bell tower was added over the diakonikon.
Modern repairs: A trial excavation in 1932 revealed foundations along the north wall and sarcophagi under the altar; traces of fresco decoration were found on the piers [Kyriazes (1933)]. In the early 1970s the original opus sectile floor was discovered between the central dome’s east piers, the plaster was removed from the walls revealing a double tier of tall windows and doorways into aisles on west façade; the crypt under the bema was rearranged, sarcophagi were found, and the remains of a colonnaded building were excavated inside the church [ARDA 1972, 13-14, 1973, 16; BCH 97 (1973) 624; MKE 8, 174-75].
Early literature: The church is often mentioned by travellers starting in the 15th century. According to Rinuccini (1474) the building was in a ruinous state and used as a stable, although the three domes were still standing. Villamont (1589) speaks of a ‘very ancient’ dark church (perhaps the original windows had already been altered?) and a crypt with the saint’s tomb, while Van Kootwyck (1598) mentions a ‘roof composed of several domes’. Della Valle (1625) also describes a church with three domes (apparently still intact) and apses, mentioning the tomb in the crypt and noting an Armenian inscription on a buttress. Van Bruyn (1683), Barskij (whose drawing shows the truncated domes in 1727) and Pococke (1738) mention briefly a church with tomb, while Drummond (1750) declares himself surprised by its architecture. Niebuhr (1766) comments on and provides a drawing of the (now lost) Armenian inscriptions on a buttress (also seen by Della Valle) that form no continuous text, being probably pilgrims’ graffiti on stone blocks in second use [Niebuhr (1837) 23-24 and pl. III; some Georgian letters also included: Djobadze (1976) 76]. Mariti’s description concerns mainly the furnishings and rituals within the church, but mostly the Armenian inscriptions ‘discovered in a wall of the enclosure of the church’ [Cobham (1909) 18-19, 76-78]. Turner (1815) speaks of a ‘heavy building of the Low Empire’. Finally Ross (1845) attributes the demolition of the three domes to the (early 19th-century) Ottoman governor Küçük Mehmet Paşa [Enlart gives 1828 as the date of demolition: Enlart (1926) 146, n.4 and 147], although as noted above, the domes were missing since at least the early 18th century [Grivaud (1990a) 84, 90, 92, 158; Cobham (1908) 52, 175, 190, 213, 240, 253, 276, 425; Stylianou (1957) 30-31 and Grishin (1996) 16; Ross (1852) 197-98; travellers’ accounts also in Hackett (1901) 413-15, Jeffery (1918) 167-70, Gunnis (1936) 108-11].
Views: Byzantine Cyprus 277 [view of Larnaca in the late 17th century (based on reports), showing Saint Lazarus with domes still intact (?)]; Stylianou (1957) pl. 4 and Grishin (1996) pl. 2 [view of Larnaca by Barskij (1727), showing already truncated domes]; Enlart (1926) 142 [showing still plastered interior]; Soteriou (1935) pl. 19 and 21a; ARDA 1969, figs. 34-35 [the north façade before and after the removal of plaster], 1972, figs. 40-41 [interior during repairs and sarcophagus].
Plan / section: Jeffery (1915/16) 125 [inaccurate measurements, showing round instead of polygonal apses]; Enlart (1926) 141 [the north and south wall windows have been omitted, showing round instead of polygonal lateral apses]; Soteriou (1935) 13 [the section shows pointed arches / vaults instead of semi-circular]; Wharton (1988) 67 [the windows of the main apse are not shown]; Department of Antiquities Archive C.19.660.