The Church of Cyprus recently found a 16th century icon from a Turkish occupied monastery up for sale at an auction house in Zurich.
It is an icon depicting Christ belonging to the Monastery of Christ Antifonitis in the occupied village of Kalograia, a Church of Cyprus press release says.
The icon was going to be included in an auction between September 15 and 19 of the auction house Schuler Auktionen.
In cooperation with all the relevant authorities, including the Church of Cyprus, the police of Cyprus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Law Office, the Antiquities Department, Swiss Interpol and Switzerland`s Embassy in Nicosia, the icon was withdrawn from the auction.
The Law Office of the Republic and the Antiquities Department are now engaged in an effort to repatriate the icon, the press release says.
Cyprus and Switzerland signed in 2013 a Memorandum of Understanding on the repatriation of cultural property.
It is further noted that in November 1998 another 16th century icon from the same monastery, depicting Mary Mother of Christ was also repatriated from Athens.
The Church of Cyprus “extends its warmest thanks to all those who helped in withdrawing the icon from the auction and wishes that soon it will be possible for it to be repatriated to Cyprus”, the press release says.
The 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the subsequent occupation of the island, has heavily affected Cyprus’ cultural heritage and despite existing internationally binding treaties regarding the protection of cultural heritage, Turkey chooses to ignore the treaties and continues its destructive agenda.
The damages are grave and in many cases, irreversible. The occupied museums have been looted and so have many private collections of antiquities. Churches have been vandalized; 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 have been vandalized and some are currently being used as stables, mosques or as part of military camps.