In various conflicts around the world one of the things that happens is that churches are pillaged, and things like ikons are looted. Occasionally, however, they are returned to their rightful home, as in this story: BBC News – Boy George returns Christ icon to Cyprus church:
Musician Boy George has agreed to return to the Church of Cyprus an icon of Christ that came into his possession 11 years after the Turkish invasion.
The former Culture Club singer bought the piece from a London art dealer in 1985 without knowing its origin.
Boy George – real name George O’Dowd – said he was ‘happy the icon is going back to its original rightful home’.
In 1974, the year of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, there were also political upheavals in Ethiopia, and in 1994 some ikons and other things that had clearly been looted from churches turned up in a fleamarket in Hatfield, Pretoria.
We asked about the prices, but could not afford to buy even one. We would like to have bought the whole lot and tried to find a way to return them to the churches from which they had been stolen.
We wondered about the people who did actually buy such things, and clearly lots of people did, because when we visited later a lot of the church items had gone. Ikons and crosses were not the only thing; there were also well-used liturgical books, presumably in Ge’ez, and censers that appeared to have been home-made.
Anyway, kudos to Boy George for returning stolen property. Would that others would do the same.