Stolen 16th-cenutry icon of Christ to be returned to Cypriot Church

Nicosia, Cyprus, July 12, 2022

Photo: Photo: Yet another icon stolen by looters at the beginning of the Turkish invasion in 1974 has been found abroad and returned to Cyprus.

The 16th-century Savior Enthroned icon was one of many taken from the Church of Christ Antiphonitis near the village of Kalograia in northern Cyprus. After nearly 50 years, the icon was returned to the Cyprus Museum on July 8, reports the Orthodoxia News Agency.

Once art restorers have a chance to inspect the icon, it will be handed over to Archbishop Chrysostomos, the primate of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

The story of the icon’s return began in 2014, when the director of the museum at Cyprus’ Kykkos Monastery just happened to come across a picture of it in the online catalog for a Zurich auction house. He quickly reported his find to the Archdiocese and the police.

Church representatives collected a dossier confirming the origin of the icon and presented it to all relevant authorities, including the Swiss Embassy in Cyprus. The Prosecutor General contacted the Schuler Auktionen auction house, and they removed the icon from the auction.

Photo: Photo:     

However, the complex repatriation process meant the icon was able to return to Cyprus only this year.

The icon of Christ has been very well preserved, but restorers still want to examine it before returning it to the Church, which plans to return it to the Antiphonitis church.

OrthoChristian has reported on the return of stolen Church valuables to Cyprus many times. In 2018, a 6th-century mosaic of St. Andrew the First-Called was returned; in 2019, relics of St. Mamas of Caesarea, which were also saved from auction, were returned to Cyprus; in 2021, 18th-century royal doors were repatriated from Japan to Cyprus; and in February of this year, an 18th-century icon of St. John the Baptist stolen in 1974 was returned.

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Priest Dmitry Wieber7/12/2022 8:25 pm
Perhaps just an Orthodox urban legend: The Iconostasis AND the Great Cross (which surmounted the dome) of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, are housed/held by the Vatican.(?) However it may unfold, it will be in God's Divine providence how, and when, these are returned home... [i.e. NOT under current stewardship of the cathedral].
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