Rare 16th Century Cypriot Icon Found in Istanbul

A rare Cypriot icon dated back in the 16th century was located recently in Istanbul. The Christian Orthodox icon depicts local Cypriot Saint John and presents one of four of the same themes that have ever been preserved.

The finding is temporarily stored on the premises of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. Cypriot clergy, monks and citizens are believed to have traveled to Istanbul and carried the rare icon with them to protect it.

The Saint John icon has been severely damaged by Turks who desecrated Orthodox churches at the time of the events of September 1958. The right and bottom part of the icon is missing, while the painted surface has been partly destroyed. From a hidden signature on the icon it was discovered that it was dedicated to the local Cypriot “Saint John the Lambadistis (:Illuminator),” during a restoration process that took place recently.

The local Saint is believed to have lived in the 11th century and probably died at a very young age. The monastery of Saint John the Lambadistis is located in the village of Kalopanayiotis in Cyprus.

There are only four icons preserved depicting Saint John the Lambadistis who came from the village of Lampadou or Lampadistos, which was near the present villages of Mitsero and Galata.

The icon, as preserved, has a 121×54 cm surface and a 2.9 cm depth. Icons of the same unique shape have been found in Cyprus and the finding is believed to have been located in Orthodox pilgrimage places. Saint John is depicted in an early age, with brown curly hair and no beard.


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