In what can be considered as a great news for the art and culture of Cyprus, the island country has managed to get back a rare 6th century Christian mosaic that was stolen decades ago.

The mosaic, which depicts the St. Andrew was taken from a looted church in four decades ago and will be returned to the Church now that it has been found again.

According to Archbishop Chrysostomos II, the mosaic depicted a rare kind of artistry, which made the work one of Cyprus’ biggest pieces of “stolen heritage.” It is in fact only one of the few mosaics to have survived the 8th and 9th centuries – a time when most icons of Orthodox Christianity were destroyed.

The mosaic itself depicts a bearded St. Andrew (one of the first apostles of Christ), and was among the many that were stolen from the Church of Panayia Kanakaria soon after Cyprus’ Greek-Turkish split in 1974.

Over 2 decades later, Aydin Dikmen, a Turkish art dealer, was arrested for selling said piece among others – both from Kanakaria Church and from other churches.

The only Kanakaria Church mosaic that is yet to be repatriated is the one of St. Luke.