An 1829 Greek Orthodox icon of St George, looted from the village of Karavas, following the 1974 Turkish invasion, is back in Cyprus, it was announced on Thursday.
The repatriation of the icon was made possible after being confiscated only hours before going to auction in Koller, an auction house in Zurich. After the completion of legal procedures, Swiss authorities returned it last month to the Cypriot authorities.
The municipality of Karavas said that the icon is currently at the Archbishopric in Nicosia and that they will try to make arrangements so that it can be displayed for believers to go and pay their respects. The 19th century icon portrays St George killing the dragon and is surrounded by 16 smaller images depicting scenes from the Saint’s miracles and his martyrdom.
It was housed in the church of St George, in Karavas until the 1974 Turkish invasion. Its present owner was not aware that the icon was stolen and accepted to return it to the Cypriot authorities after he learned about its provenance. There are no details about the nationality of the owner or the way he came into possession of the icon.
Legal procedures to return the icon started after a complaint lodged by the Church of Cyprus. The Cyprus police then informed Interpol, asking for the icon to be withdrawn. This was made possible only hours before the icon went to auction.
A detailed report was submitted to the Swiss authorities to attest the icon’s Cypriot provenance and the fact that it is a protected artefact.