Thirty-eight years (March 1975) after the theft from the Monastery of Christ the Antifonitis (12th century.) in occupied Kalograia, the four icons of the Apostles : Peter , Paul, John and Marcus , all of the 16th century, return again to their homeland, in the upcoming days.
At a ceremony held today afternoon at the Ministry of Education in the Hague, Netherlands, the agreement for the transfer of the four icons to the Republic of Cyprus was signed. The Dutch government was represented by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Education Ms M. Hammersma, the Republic of Cyprus by the Ambassador Dr. Kyriacos Kouros and the Church of Cyprus by Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis. The representative of the Department of Antiquities , Ms. S. Pissaridou will accompany the icons in their journey of return.
To recover the four icons a perennial unsuccessful lawsuit was conducted in the District Court of Rotterdam (1995-1999) and the Court of Appeal in the Hague (2002 ).
After the ratification of the Hague Convention by the Dutch Government (2007), the Church of Cyprus in cooperation with the Department of the General Attorney and the Ministry of Communications and Works brought back the case to the foreground in 2011. On the basis of new data, the Dutch Government seized the four icons, and returned them to the rightful owner, the Church of Cyprus.
We all wish the icons will soon return to their natural position, at the free from the occupying troops Monastery of Christ the Antifonitis, whose iconostasis they adorned for more than four hundred years.
May this important fact be a starting point for closer cooperation between the Dutch State and the Republic of Cyprus to combat illicit trafficking of cultural goods.