The stolen icon of the Holy Forerunner from the occupied church of Agia Irene in Karavas was repatriated last month after efforts by the Church of Cyprus. The icon was found at an auction house in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Today's announcement by the Conjoint Commission of Church, Monuments and Christian Art of the Church of Cyprus states that the icon with dimensions of 92 x 36 cm. it was placed in the iconostasis of the church and was a donation of the Carabitian Lavrentios Protosigellos, as stated in the dedicatory inscription: “Remember the saint of your servant Lavrentios Protosigellos after his escort”.
The icon was painted in the icon workshop of the Monastery of Agios Herakleidis and dedicated to the church in 1807. Lavrentios Protosygellos is the donor of most of the icons of the church of Agia Irini. The icon, like the rest of the church's icons, was stolen after the Turkish invasion by Turkish antiquarians to be sold on the black market of stolen cultural goods.
According to the announcement, the icon of the Holy Forerunner was spotted being auctioned by auction house Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen in Düsseldorf in November 2022. The Church of Cyprus successfully reclaimed the icon. It is noteworthy that in 2015 another icon with five saints (George, Eutychius, Eleftherios, Procopius and Marina) from 1766 was repatriated from the same church. It was stolen along with others by the Turkish antiquarian A. Dikmen.
In the announcement, the Church of Cyprus expresses thanks to the researcher Kalliopi Harmantas for her help in identifying the image of the Holy Forerunner.