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Stolen icons from Turkish-occupied Cyprus return home

12 January, 2012

Two post-Byzantine icons, looted from churches in the northern Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus and sold illegally following the 1974 Turkish invasion, will return home.
The icons, depicting Jesus and St. John Chrysostomos, have been located in the German city of Dusseldorf.
According to an announcement by the Representation of the Church of Cyprus to the European Union, the icons were located last November in Dusseldorf and have been received on Wednesday , January 11 by the Head of the Representation, Bishop Porphyrios of Neapolis, in order to be repatriated.
It is further noted that another two icons were located last April in the same city, depicting St. Paul and Jacob the Apostles and were returned to Cyprus.
The icon of Jesus is dated from the 18th century AD, while the second icon of St. John is believed to belong to the 19th century. Both icons are in good condition, the announcement concludes.
Since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, hundreds of valuable artifacts have been stolen from the northern Turkish occupied areas of the island and found their way into the black market overseas.
More than 500 churches have been pillaged, destroyed or turned into museum, inns or silos. Many archaeological sites and other places belonging to the country’s 9,000 year old cultural heritage have been abandoned to the elements.
The Church of Cyprus has, at different times, managed to secure the return of stolen religious items, illegally stolen and sold on the black market abroad.