Designer: Constantinos Tsaggarides-Antonia Hadjigeorgiou
This year’s series, dedicated to Christmas, consists of a commemorative sheet (feuilee) and two stamps with the same number of icons depicting the Virgin and Child. These icons are from the occupied areas of Cyprus and are currently being exhibited at the Byzantine Museum of the Archbishop Makarios III Foundation.
The €0,68 commemorative sheet depicts the Virgin Mary Enthroned between St. George and St. Nicholas and at the bottom are the benefactors of the icon. The icon is dated to the 16th century overpainted with the benefactors in a renaissance style dated to the first quarter of the 17th century. According to the inscription, the icon belonged to a priest, George, the head priest of St. George in Venice, from Vatyli. The icon was transferred to St. George’s Church in Vatyli at the beginning of the 17th century by the head priest’s wife following the deaths of the members of the priest’s family. The icon survived the theft and looting following the Turkish invasion in 1974 because it was at the Holy Archbishopric in Nicosia, having returned from an exhibition abroad.
The €0,22 stamp depicts the Virgin holding the Child in a wooden throne, dated to the end of the 15th century – beginning of the 16th century. The icon is from Christ Antiphonitis Church which was stolen by illicit Turkish antiquities dealers after 1974 and was sold to a private collector in Switzerland. When the collector sent it to an exhibition in 1998 it was identified and repatriated to Cyprus.
The €0,51 stamp depicts Panayia Odigitria (The Guiding Virgin) half section, from Panayia Church in Lysi. The icon is attributed to Chrysanthos, an artist of the Ayios Eraklidios School and is dated to the end of the 18th century. The icon was repatriated in 2008 with another six icons and an altar rail from the occupied areas. The icon of Panayia Odigitria, belonging to the same artist, was recently repatriated and is exhibited in the offices of the Church of Cyprus in Brussels.