With a great deal of pleasure the people of Cyprus accepted the decision of the Board of the Menil foundation (Houston, Texas) for the repatriation of the frescoes of Saint Efymianos Church which is in the occupied by the Turkish forces Village of Lysi. The Menil foundation announced its decision in a press conference that was held on Friday the 23rd of September 2011. The agreement made between the Menil Foundation and the Church of Cyprus for the rental of the frescoes expires on the 14th of February 2012, where the procedure of repatriation in Cyprus will begin with the costs being covered by the Foundation.
The frescoes are from the dome and the arch of the chapel of Saint Efymianos and are date back in the 13th century. On the dome is painted the icon of Christ the Pantokrator as well as the Angels, Virgin Mary, John the Baptist and the Throne of Preparation. In one of the four arches and especially the one that is above the Holy Alter, Virgin Mary is painted, with Christ in a medallion that is on her chest and is surrounded by the Arch-angels Michel and Gabriel who are in a praying position.
The frescoes were detached from the well known illicit art-dealer Aydin Dikmen soon after the Turkish invasion. In the procedure, the Turkish army forces were also involved since the chapel of Saint Efymianos was a part of a military camp. In the mid of 1980 the frescoes were presented to the American Market for to be sold. The Menil Foundation with the permission of the Republic of Cyprus bought the frescoes and a special agreement was signed by the Church of Cyprus, the legal owner, for their concession for a period of fifteen years, which was extended until February of 2012.
At the space where the Foundation is, a chapel was built which is the same exactly as the one of Saint Efymianos in Lysi Village. The frescoes, after several years of restorations were placed in the new chapel. This chapel, which is owned by the Church of Cyprus, was inaugurated by the late Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos I.
The frescoes after their repatriation will be placed temporally at the Byzantine Museum of the Cultural Foundation Makarios III in Nicosia, with the expectation that they will be restored at the chapel of Saint Efymianos in Lysi village, from where they were illegally removed.
The Church of Cyprus hopes that this action that honours the Menil Foundation, will become an example of imitation for many others organizations, Museums or even individuals that have in their possession ancient antiquities or byzantine heirlooms, which were stolen and illegally exported from Cyprus during or after the Turkish invasion of 1974.