St. Nicholas

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 How the Village of Agios Nikolaos Got Its Name

The village of Agios Nikolaos in Solia (Solea), Cyprus, did not have this name from the beginning. A miracle of St. Nicholas prompted the residence to rename their village.

St Nicholas with scenes of his life
Saint Nicholas icon from Ayios Nikolaos tis Stegis, Kakopetria, another of the villages in Solia

One day a farmer, while tilling his field, had a problem. The blade of the plow was caught under a large stone. With a spade the farmer dug around the stone and pulled out. He saw that the stone had a hole at one end the same size as one at the other end. The farmer, thinking such a stone could be useful, carried it home at the end of the afternoon. Putting a rope through the hole, he tied his ox to the stone.

When he woke up In the morning, he found his ox had died. He called his neighbors to tell them how his ox died from the stone, thinking the stone may have had demonic energy. The neighbors said his ox died from bad grass, not from the stone. The farmer still insisted.

However, one day an old man told him how the ox died. He said it was a miracle of St. Nicholas, because he had heard from his grandfather that in the area where the stone was found there had once been a church dedicated to St. Nicholas that was destroyed by the Saracenes.

The farmer thought the old man was probably right. One Saturday night St. Nicholas appeared to the farmer and told him that where the stone was found his church still existed, though it was deeply buried. He ordered the farmer to uncover it.

That Sunday the farmer went to church. After the Liturgy he told the villagers about his vision and begged them to go and help him uncover the church. They followed him and before sunset they found the walls of the church. They dug around the church till the walls came up to their waists. The walls were painted. On one wall there was a full-figure icon of St. Nicholas.

The villagers then decided to build a church on that spot and named their village after Saint Nicholas.

Agios Nikolaos was one of ten vilages in the mountainous area of Solia or Solea on Cyprus. Agios Nikolaos was abandoned in 1974 because it was in the buffer zone between Greek Cyprus and the area occupied by Turkish troops.

Adapted from John Sanidopoulos, Mystagogy.

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