by Heidi Trautmann
Until recently the monastery was closed off in a military zone but can now be visited without any problem. Like all the holy places it is based on legends.
The legend goes back to 275 when Pantaleon the patron of the monastery was born. To this saint who had studied medicine in his human days, two monks from Lapta were praying to find a suitable place for the construction of a church and while they prayed a spring started to appea,r the place of which is still to be recognised by an Ottoman looking fountain in the centre of the yard.
The prayers were done in 1600 and the monks built a small church right there and placed the icon including the bones of the saint they had brought with them to Cyprus. As is the custom, farmers and their families soon settled around the church, and they gave the place the name of Myrtou (now Camlibel).
It must have been a rich village, judging from the big monastery estate, the main extensions of which were done in the 17th and 18th century. On the saint’s day which is on the 27th July, many people used to come, both from Turkey and Cyprus. There is little to see inside the church now.
In the troubled years the monastery and the area around it was involved in heavy fighting.
It is thought of renovating the monastery but the finances are not yet available.
In my opinion it could easily serve as a recreation home since the saint of the place was a mediciner and has always cared for his people, be they Greek or Turkish. The late bishop of the place had equal humanitarian principles and was mourned by all when he died.
The place was kind of mystic with bright sun rays emerging from behind purple clouds but the rain set in when we left for Korucam, a village just a few miles away closer to the coast.