The church of Panaya Kanakaria
The church of Panaya Kanakaria dates back to the early Byzantine period (5th century AD). It was largely destroyed during the Arab raids of the 700s, and rebuilt. The apse, which is part of the original church, was adorned with mosaics, believed to have been made around 550, and considered to be some of the most important surviving pieces of early Christian artwork, having escaped the almost total destruction of religious images during the Byzantine Iconoclastic period from 726 to 843 AD.
Some time after the Turkish invasion, these mosaics were looted. As said, most of these looted icons have been recovered but one.
The hunt for St. Mark
“The last three years I have been trying to locate the mosaic of St. Mark. It was a journey which I will never forget. I was helped by a person which name will be revealed in the near future. Without his help this would not have been possible. I also got all the support needed by the Church of Cyprus and the Cypriote Government. They expressed to me the importance of this particular mosaic for the heritage of Cyprus. One person in particular supported me through all of this.
The mosaic of St Mark will return to Cyprus
I managed to locate the mosaic in Southern Europe. After everything went wrong – informants were arrested in unrelated cases, people got scared and disappeared – it finally came to a meeting between the current owner of the mosaic and myself. The current owner inherited the mosaic by his father who – back in the seventies – bought it without knowing that it was stolen. After a long talk we agreed that the mosaic will return to Cyprus where it belongs. This will happen in the near future. The current owner was offered a symbolic compensation for having taken care of the mosaic during all these decades. He wants to remain anonymous.”
`'The mosaic of Saint Mark, valued at between €5 million and €10 million ($5.7–11.4 million) according to The Telegraph, had been traced to a British family that bought the piece in good-faith. “They were horrified when they found out that it was in fact a priceless art treasure, looted from the Kanakaria church after the Turkish invasion,” Brand said.
Part of the Cypriote soul
“During this long and exciting journey I have learned that the mosaic of St. Mark is not only a priceless and unique piece of Cypriote cultural heritage: it is part of the Cypriote soul.”