Lovelorn Cypriots ravage historic tomb of saint

Unhappy lovers in Cyprus have been taking so much stone from the tomb of Saint Agapitikos to use in love potions that soon there won't be any left.

Dust from the grave in the courtyard of the church in the village of Arodes in Paphos district has been used for centuries by the lovelorn, who are supposed to slip it into the drink of their objet d'amour.

But, in recent years, so many have been filching shards of stone that a quarter of the tomb has disappeared.

The mayor of Arodes, Matthaios Stefanou, is unclear whether Cypriots' love lives are becoming more troubled. "A lot of people have said it works," he said. "In the last few years I don't know what's come over people, but they are flocking to the tomb for the stuff.

"Just the other day locals saw some people visiting the tomb. They were there for a very long time, and in the end they walked off with a huge chunk of stone, maybe even half-a-kilo of it!"

The island's antiquities department has been called in to help. "The only thing we can do is examine the damage and try to prevent any further damage," said Maria Hadjicosti, the acting director.

Saint Agapitikos – whose name means "lover" – is believed to have served in the German army of the Crusaders before settling as a hermit in the area.

"You're very welcome to come and see the tomb, but please don't go taking any of it with you now," Mr Stefanou pleaded.