Archbishop Makarios, the Cypriot president, was laid to rest in a mountaintop tomb today amid emotional scenes of grief from thousands of Greek Cypriots.
The day-long ceremonies began with a state funeral conducted in the Byzantine rite by chanting, gilt-robed fellow bishops and attended by American and other foreign dignitaries, and culminated in an 80-mile motor procession to the gravesite.
The Cyprus government, conscious of its dire political contest with Turkish Cypriots who refuse to recognize Makario's successor as the head of state for the entire island, sought to surround the final tribute to the world-famous politician with maximum pomp for international prestige. But the occasion evolved into an intensely Greek Cypriot farewell to a beloved family member and trusted leader.
Black-clad village women wailed as the cortege wound slowly up the hills past white stone slogans people had built on the bare slopes, proclaiming "Makarios lives." Few foreigners went all the way to attend the actual burial in his moundlike tomb outside the walls of Kykko Monastery, where Makarios studied for the priesthood.
Wreaths, tributes and messages of condolence poured in from every major government except Turkey, but the actual level of foreign representation was perceptibly lower than Greek Cypriots had hoped. They had sought a turnout of high-level foreign dignitaries to draw the world's attention to Cyprus and its problems. But the only head of state who attended was Greek President Constantine Tsatsos.
The foreign attendance seemed to be typified by the makeup of the U.S. delegation. Led by Chief Justice Warren Burger and including President Carter's sister, Ruth Stapleton, and special envoy Clark Clifford plus a dozen other people including Rep. John Brademas (D-Ind.) and Sen. Paul Sarbanes, (D-Md.) it was viewed here as reassuringly correct in protocol terms. Yet it lacked the political celebrities whom Greek Cypriots had anticipated for Makarios, with his international stature.
In his tribute, Acting President Spiro Kyprianou spoke of "this man who made this small siland so big" and vowed to maintain Makarios' policy of seeking to restore a government accepted by Greek and Turkish Cypriots alike. However, Greek Cypriot politicians are painfully aware of the impossibility of filling the gap left now by Makarios as a figure commanding an international audience and uniting the main Greek Cypriot factions in their three-year-old crisis since the Turkish invasion.
Family and friends attended an intimate service early today in the small church where Makarios had lain in state since his death from a heart attack Wednesday at age 63. Then the casket was closed and borne to a larger church nearby - draped in two flags, the blue-and-white Greek flag, symbolising his pan-Hellenic role as a Greek Orthodox archbishop and ethnarch of the Cypriots, and the Cypriot flag, a golden island wreathed in laurel, the ensign of his secular status as head of the republic.
In sweltering temperatures, the state funeral was conducted by Cypriot bishops. Makarios' brother and sister, her face draped in a black scarf, stood beside the wreath-covered catafalque in simple village black.
Shortly after he was lowered into the grave high on the Troodos Mountain, the sky clouded over in a freak rainfall, strengthening some Cypriots' intuition that they were witnessing the end of an exceptional era.