A statement by the Representation of the Church of Cyprus to the European Union said the two icons, which are the work of the School of Iconography of St. Heraklidio, were located in Dusseldorf last February.
Their origin, said the Church of Cyprus’ statement, is believed to be a monastery or church in the occupied areas of Cyprus, although reports indicate they come from the Monastery of Agios Anastasios in Peristeronopigi, Famagusta. They were taken out of Cyprus illegally and were up for sale in Europe, following the plundering and looting of Christian churches during the 1974 Turkish invasion. Thousands more icons remain unaccounted for, it is added.
Following action by the Synod Committee of the Church of Cyprus for Religious Monuments and Relics, His Eminence Bishop Porphyrios of Neapolis, Director of the Office for Religious Monuments and Relics at the EU, visited Dusseldorf and recovered the icons. They are expected to be repatriated soon, the statement concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Hundreds of religious and archaeological artifacts have been stolen from the occupied areas, many of which have found their way in the black market. Some have been repatriated, others are still in the hands of illegal art dealers.