On Sunday 20 May 2012, His Grace Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis, Representative of the office of the Church of Cyprus to the European Union, visited Hamburg where he received the 95X65cm icon of the Virgin Mary (Panagia Odigitria) from the 18th century.
The icon was traced in early May by the Synodical Office for Monuments and Artefacts of the Church of Cyprus. After an investigation, that was conducted it was proven that the icon was of Cypriot origin and it was stolen and illegally exported from the occupied area of Cyprus after the Turkish invasion in 1974.
The icon is painted by the inmate Chrysanthos, hagiographer of the known hagiography school of the Monastery of Saint Heraklidios. The Virgin Mary is painted on a gold background; from the waist up turning to the left in the genre of Hodegetria. She holds Jesus with her left hand, while raising the right one in the form of supplication (deesis). She is wearing a deep green tunic with gold stitches and a crimson garment on top with gold tress and three gold sunburst crosses on her head and shoulders. Jesus Christ is wearing a decorated rose pink tunic underneath and a golden stitched garment. On the left hand he is holding a wrapped papyrus while his right hand is in front of His chest and blessing the crowds. Above Jesus Christ’s left shoulder the inscription in red capital letters reads ‘this present icon has been completed under the episcopal supervision of Father Michael and the Blessed Memory of Our Lady and of all Christians, by the hand of inmate Chrysanthos’
Similar icon to the Virgin Mary was found and repatriated from Munich in 2008. Its origin was from the Church of Virgin Mary in the now occupied village of Lysi. It is important to mention that in the past two years and in four different cases in Germany eleven icons have been repossessed by the Church of Cyprus in total. At the same time the appeal of the case of the illicit art dealer A. Dikmen in Munich and a further case of six remaining icons in Augsburg are still pending.