August 3, 1977 | 45 years since the death of Archbishop Makarios III
Defence Redefined
Published on 03/08/2022 at 15:00

Today marks forty-five years since the death of the first President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III. 

Makarios (birth name: Michael Christodoulou Mouskos, Pano Panagia Paphos, August 13, 1913 – Nicosia, August 3, 1977) was a Greek-Cypriot cleric and politician who served as archbishop of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus since 1950 and as the first President of the Republic of Cyprus from August 16, 1960, until his death on August 3, 1977.

The first news of the President’s health was spread on April 3, 1977, when he suffered his first heart attack. Less than 3 months later, on August 2, while he was in his office, he once again experienced chest discomfort and the doctors rushed to the Archdiocese.

Then he developed ventricular fibrillation and the doctors gave him an electric shock. The newspapers of the time spoke of three heart attacks within six hours. The doctors were unable to prevent the fatality and Makarios’ heart stopped beating at 5:15 am on August 3, 1977. 

The Archbishop’s autopsy was performed in his bed in the Archdiocese because his GP did not allow the body to be transferred to the morgue. As mentioned in his book “Cypriot doctors’ works”, the autopsy was performed “following primitive and unacceptable procedures”, that is why an official autopsy report could not be prepared.

The pathologist who performed the autopsy, Panos Stavrinos, reported: “The coronary vessels had extensive narrowings with diffuse calcification and hardening. There was a scar of an old heart attack, the one he had suffered in April 1977. The heart was hypertrophied and its weight was estimated – we did not have the necessary scale for accurate measurement – ​​at about 450 – 480 grams. I removed the heart from the body and personally transported it to London for further examinations, following the instructions of the then Government Representative, Miltiadis Christodoulou.”

However, in London, the exams did not show anything different and the heart was sent back to Cyprus. It was embalmed and for the next 33 years remained in the Archdiocese, when in 2010 it was transferred to Throni where Makarios’ gravestone is located.

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