(A church and a mosque are seen in a village near Famagusta, north Cyprus, February 3, 2008.  REUTERS/Fatih Saribas)

For the first time in more than half a century, a church in northern Cyprus will host Good Friday mass in a sign of a thaw in relations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Off limits to Greek Cypriots for 58 years, the Church of St. George Exorinos in the medieval city of Famagusta will host a liturgy on what is one of the most important religious dates in the Greek Orthodox calendar.

Alexis Galanos, the Greek Cypriot mayor-in-exile of the sprawling coastal city now on the Turkish Cypriot side of the divided island, hopes it can be a precursor to lasting peace.

Galanos joined with Turkish Cypriot counterpart Oktay Kayalp to organize the event that is expected to draw about 4,000 people.