West of the church of St. Nicholas stands the better-preserved church of Agia Zoni (Αγία Ζώνη). It is dedicated to the belt of the Blessed Virgin Mary (known as Holy Girdle), as shreds of this belt were kept here in ancient times. In modern Greek, the word ζώνη has retained its meaning – thus, the name of the church literally translates to “the church of the holy belt.”
According to legend, the Virgin Mary wove a belt (girdle) of camel hair. It was 90 cm long with strings at the ends.
It is known that the Virgin Mary was suppose into the heaven in the presence of all apostles except Thomas, who arrived in Jerusalem only three days later.
Touched by his grief, the apostles opened the burial den so that he would bow to her, but the tomb was empty. By then, Mary’s body was taken by angels to heaven. To console the apostle, she gifted him her girdle.
Since then, the belt has been the only relic left from the earthly life of the Virgin Mary; it is considered proof of the ascension of the Virgin.
The belt was highlighted for the 1st time only at the end of the 9th century. Therefore, in the initial period of Christianity, many different legends arose about it.
This has led to the fact that today, many churches claim to own the original belt or parts of it. In France, these are the Church of Saint Ours of Loches and the Sénanque Abbey; in Greece – the Monastery of Vatopedi; in Russia – the Temple of the Prophet Elijah in Moscow and the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Belgium and the Netherlands also made such claims. And, of course, Trooditissa Monastery in Cyprus.
The Church of Agia Zoni was built at the turn of the 14th-15th centuries. In some parts of it, you can see the original frescoes painted just before the tragic events of 1571. Until the middle of the 20th century, a large image of the Archangel Michael was preserved in the church. After the invasion of 1974, the church was closed, and the fate of the fresco remains unknown.