Cyprus Mail

Icon illegally taken by RAF pilot in 1974 returned to Cyprus Church


An icon of Saint John, illegally exported from Cyprus in 1974, was handed over to the Church during an event at the Archbishopric on Thursday.

An announcement said that on behalf of Archbishop Chrysostomos II, the Bishop of Karpasia Christophoros, received the icon which had been transported from Cyprus to the United Kingdom in 1974 by a Royal Air Force pilot.

The icon was handed over to Bishop Christophoros by art historian, Maria Paphiti, who represented both the anonymous donor (former possessor) and Marc-André Renold, professor of Art Law and Cultural Heritage at the University of Geneva and holder of the chair of UNESCO in International Cultural Heritage Law, with whom she had collaborated for the repatriation of this icon.

The presentation of the icon by Paphiti to Bishop Christophoros was attended by secretary of the Archbishop’s office, Michalis Pavlou, the deacon Michalis Nikolaou, the Byzantinologist Dr. Christodoulos Hadjichristodoulou and Dimos Dimos, financial director of the Holy Archdbishopric of Cyprus.

The icon had been illegally exported by a Royal Air Force officer, who was serving on the island in 1974. The son of the late officer thought it right to return the icon to its place of origin. The man, who chose to remain anonymous, has no monetary or other claims but he set as a condition that the icon be returned to its lawful owner, namely the Church of Cyprus, and that nobody benefit financially from its repatriation. As of Thursday the icon is in the custody of the Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus.

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