“We are determined to continue, by all legal and moral means, to claim our stolen treasures,” said the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at a presentation devoted to the hundred years since the pillaging of rare historical heirlooms from the Virgin Mary Ikosifinissa of Paggeio, by Bulgarian invaders during the second decade of the 20th century.
The Ecumenical Patriarch also appealed to the Greek state and political authorities to include the request for “the irrecoverable return of all treasures looted by Bulgarians from the monasteries of Macedonia” to bilateral contacts as well as to the legal framework of the EU.
The Ecumenical Patriach referred to rare historical heritage, ancient manuscripts, tributes, icons, etc. as “spiritual and cultural treasures of the Greeks” which were “looted without fear of God” from Macedonian monasteries at that time and were “left” in the neighboring country and either hidden in secret collections or exhibited in museums “as examples of a supposedly Bulgarian-Byzantine civilization “, or were illegally sold to museums and libraries in third countries.
Notably, the Patriarch praised the attitude of the Lutheran Theological School of Chicago, which two years ago returned a New Testament of the 9th century, a heirloom of the monastery of Panayia Eikosifinissa (Code 1424), which it had acquired at auction and added:
“The remainder of the looted treasures are retained contrary to any sense of law, despite the repeated appeals of the Ecumenical Patriarch to the highest political and state leadership of Bulgaria and to the Patriarchate of Sofia. It is a great wound in the body of Romiosini, which remaigreens open and dying for a whole century.”
“We express our sincere wish and request: that the relevant state and political authorities of Greece to diligently include this demand for the irrevocable return of all looted cultural and spiritual treasures by the Bulgarians from our Macedonian monasteries, in any future bilateral and international meetings and within the legal framework of Europe” added the Ecumenical Patriarch.