Cyprus Church regains three icons stolen from Turkish occupied churches

The Church of Cyprus has regained three religious icons dating from the 18th and the 19th centuries, which were stolen from churches in the northern occupied area of the island after the Turkish invasion of 1974.

The three icons, depicting the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and the Pentecost, both dated 19th century and Apostle James dated 18th century were discovered last April at an auction house in Dusseldorf, Germany, a Church of Cyprus press release says.

The Church of Cyprus recognised that they were of Cypriot provenance from Turkish occupied churches and acted in an effective, timely and discreet manner in order to regain them, the press release adds.

The three icons are set to be repatriated soon.

The 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the subsequent occupation of the island have taken a heavy toll on Cyprus’ cultural heritage, despite existing internationally binding treaties regarding the protection of cultural heritage.

The damage is serious and in many cases, irreversible. Occupied museums have been looted as have many private collections of antiquities.

Churches have been vandalised; ecclesiastical icons and vessels stolen, church frescoes and mosaics have been removed and in many cases have been traced in Europe’s illegal antiquities trade markets and in auctions around the world.

The most serious and large-scale damage has been noted on the islands’ occupied churches. Some of the churches have even been demolished, others pillaged and some are currently being used as stables, mosques or as part of military camps.

Source: Cyprus News Agency