Limassol or Lemesos is the second-largest city in Cyprus, with a population of 238,000. It is the largest city in geographical size, and the biggest municipality on the island. The city is located on Akrotiri Bay, on the island’s southern coast and it is the capital of Limassol District.
Limassol is the biggest port in the Mediterranean transit trade. It has also become one of the most important tourism, trade and service-providing centres in the area. Limassol is renowned for its long cultural tradition, and is home to the Cyprus University of Technology. A wide spectrum of activities and a number of museums and archaeological sites are available to the interested visitor. Consequently, Limassol attracts a wide range of tourists mostly during an extended summer season to be accommodated in a wide range of hotels and apartments.
The Christian presence:
The Franciscans came to Limassol during the thirteenth century. However, they were forced to leave about the middle of the fifteenth century, due to adverse circumstances. But they usually visited the community when it was possible. In 1850, they were at last able to set up permanent residence here. In 1872 they started to build the present church of St Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr of the forth centry. It was inaugurated on 25th on November, 1879, on the same day that the church celebrate the feast of St Catherine.
In 1979, the church was restored. In the preliminary survey, it was found out that the plaster Basroque works had no structural connection with the main stone walls. The many “stuccos” decorations showed signs of great decay. So it was only natural to remove them altogether. During the ensuing restoration work, under the expertise and able management of the Franciscan Architect Fr Alberto Prodomo, six new windows were opened in the side walls.
Two renowned artists from Romania, Michel and Gabriel Morosan, internationally known for their Neo-Byzantine paintings, were commissioned to paint a Byzantine fresco on the apse behind the altar. This fresco is about eighty square metres. The saints painted are, from left to right St Francis of Assisi, St Michael the Archangel, the Virgin Mary, St Gabriel, St Catherine, St Anthony of Padua, St Epihpaneus, the Apostles Peter and Andrew, St Hilarion and St Barnabas, a native of Cyprus.
On the wall of the left aisle, Morosan painted the Nativity of Jesus, and on the right aisle the Baptism of Christ.
The new altar, with a stone table mounted on a capital from a medieval column, was consecrated on September 18th, 1982 by the Apostolic Vicar for the Latins in Syria – His Excellency Monsignor Domenico Picchi.
The recent reshaping of the Limassol sea front by the civic authorities has put the Church of St Catherine in a prominent position. The church invites the faithful and tourists to spend a quiet moment of prayer and of silence
Various ecclesial movements are active in St. Catherine’s parish, such as El-Shaddai, charismatic movements, etc..
St. Francis’ Shelter is a foundation that supports foreign workers and refugees. On Sundays they are offered mainly food, games, sports and legal support.