Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades announced on Monday after talks with the pontiff in the Vatican that Pope Francis has accepted his invitation to make an official visit to the east Mediterranean island nation next year.
In 2020, Cyprus will mark the 60th year of its independence from British colonial rule and one decade since Pope Benedict XVI traveled to the island, the first pontiff ever in history to do so.
Cyprus was the initial stop on Saint Paul’s first journey to spread Christianity in the first century A.D. and he converted the Roman governor of the island, Sergius Paulus, to the new faith.
Cyprus is also linked with Saint Lazarus — the man who according to the Christian scriptures was resurrected by Jesus. Later fearing persecution, Lazarus fled to Cyprus and was appointed a bishop there.