On Sunday 5 March 2012 the Menil Foundation ended the exhibition of the famous frescos of Saint Efymianos Church from the occupied village of Lysi. The repatriation of the frescos, which were detached and exported abroad by the well known Turkish illegal artefact dealer Aydin Dikmen, it is matter of days. The contract for their leasing by the Holy Archbishopric to the Menil Foundation ended on 14 February 2012.
On Saturday, 4 March 2012, the archbishop of America Mr. Demetrios celebrated the last Divine Liturgy at the Chapel where the frescos were exposed since the mid of 1980. Among others the archbishop stressed that "we are praying that the repatriation will leave behind it a beautiful experience. Whatever is to happen to this chapel will always have an atmosphere of holiness. These frescos could have been exposed in a museum, but the fact that this chapel was built expresses the love of the Menil Foundation for artefacts that are sacred, beautiful and of historical importance."
The director of the Menil's collections, Joseph Helfestein, stated that "the feelings vary because on the one the Menil Foundation is to leave behind for ever the frescos but at the same time is a right and proper act. The frescos had been a part of our surrounding environment and therefor the repatriation of them is a sad event. But at the same time we feel that we have acted properly. We did not steal them, they were never ours we were just their guards." In addition the ambassador of Cyprus in USA Mr. Pavlos Anastasiades stated that "the Menil foundation did not only restore the frescos but exhibit them in a proper way which expresses their respect to them while is respecting at the same time their importance." For the management of the practical issues of the repatriation of the frescos, the director of the Centre of Byzantine Icons and Monuments of the Holy Archbishopric arch-priest Dimosthenis Dimostenous, the legal advisor of the Holy Archbishopric Mr. Costas Katsaros and the expert in restoration of artefacts of the Department of Antiquities Mrs. Stella Pissaridou.
With the repatriation of the frescos in Cyprus, they will be exposed at a chapel at the Byzantine Museum of the Foundation of Archbishop Makarios III.
For more informations press: http://www.churchofcyprus.org.cy/article.php?articleID=2232