NICOSIA, Cyprus – The head of Cyprus’ Orthodox Christian Church says a rare 6th century mosaic depicting St. Andrew that was taken from a looted church in the country’s breakaway north has been returned after four decades.
Archbishop Chrysostomos II said Monday that the artistry that went into the mosaic coupled with its rarity made the work a symbol of Cyprus’ “stolen heritage.”
It is among only a handful of mosaics to have survived a period during the 8th and 9th centuries when many Orthodox icons were destroyed.
The mosaic was one of several that went missing from the Church of Panayia Kanakaria after Cyprus split into ethnic Greek and Turkish sides in 1974. A Turkish art dealer, Aydin Dikmen, was arrested a quarter-century later for selling the piece, as well as artworks from other churches.