Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Historic Icon Stolen

From The Guardian (UK):
Police set up roadblocks and launched helicopter searches Saturday for a 700-year-old religious icon that was stolen from a monastery in southern Greece. The Icon of The Virgin Mary, which is credited with miracles, was reported missing Friday at the Orthodox Christian monastery of Elona, near the town of Leonidio, 185 miles southwest of Athens.

“This is the worst thing that could happen to us, our church and our religion,” said Metropolitan Bishop Alexandros of Mantineia and Kynouria.

Alexandros described the icon, which measures 16 by 20 inches, as “priceless.”

Alexandros said he believes the robbers had used climbing equipment to reach the monastery, which is built into the face of a cliff.

I would definitely not want to be these guys in front of Jesus at the Final Judgement. “Nice picture you have there, fellows. Gee, it looks an awful lot like Mom. Funny, I don’t recall you guys being particular friends of hers. Did you paint it yourselves?”

In addition to its value as art, a wonder-working icon of this nature – perceived as a window into heaven - is of incalculable value to our Orthodox friends as a portal for God’s grace into the world. For a Westerner, it would be rather like someone stealing the entire shrine of Lourdes and leaving a hole in the ground. Sure, people could rebuild the site and put in new baths, but it’s not the same thing!

Pray for these revolting vermin, that their hearts might be turned by God's grace shining through that which they have stolen. Sorry if that’s insufficiently charitable; it’s the best I can do at the moment.