The Story of Saint Barnabas in Cyprus

Saint Barnabas is considered the founder of the church of Cyprus. Born in Salamis, Barnabas was raised as a Jew and his given name was Joseph.

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Saint Barnabas is considered the founder of the church of Cyprus. Born in Salamis, Barnabas was raised as a Jew and his given name was Joseph. When, as a young man, he sold his property and donated the proceeds to the apostles in Jerusalem, he was given the name Barnabas, which means ‘man of encouragement’. Indeed, he served as mentor to Saint Paul, who had persecuted the early Christians before converting to Christianity. Bringing his cousin John Mark, Barnabas led Paul on the first missionary trip of the Christian church, sailing from Seleucia to Salamis in 45 CE. Crossing the island while preaching in Jewish synagogues, the group eventually made it to Nea Pafos, the Roman capital of the island near the present-day harbour. There, according to the Acts of the Apostles, they encountered a Jewish magician named Bar-Jesus along with the Roman proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul was interested in hearing from the apostles, but Bar-Jesus interfered. Paul then worked a miracle, blinding Bar-Jesus; astonished, Sergius Paulus converted to Christianity—the first high-ranking Roman to do so. After a falling out with Paul, Barnabas made a second missionary trip to Cyprus with his cousin around 60 CE. According to the fifth-century Acts of Barnabas, he again encountered Bar-Jesus near Pafos, worked a miracle of his own, and continued to Salamis. There, legend has it, he was stoned to death for preaching Christianity; his mission work and martyrdom are honoured at his tomb and an adjacent monastery bearing his name.