Ukraine Spirits Out Ancient Icons to France

Whether the holy items will be returned back to Kiev has not been reported.

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Originally appeared at: UOJ

Five of the oldest icons exfiltrated from Ukraine were on view at the Louvre in Paris until the end of January, while another 11 are "cocooned" in a warehouse, according to WSJ.

In May 2023, these sacred objects were spirited out to France under military convoy in the utmost secrecy in specially designed containers with air conditioning. Prior to this, the icons were kept at the National Museum of Arts named after Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko.

One of the icons from the Khanenko Museum in the Louvre. Photo: Michel Eule

The icons depict saints Platon, Glykeria, Sergius, Vakh, John the Baptist, and the Virgin Mary with the Child. Four out of the five on view at the exhibition date back to the 6th century. They are among the few surviving icons in the world that have endured the period of iconoclasm, which were originally kept at the Saint Catherine Monastery on Mount Sinai and later transported to France. In the late 19th century, the icons were transferred from the Louvre in Paris to the Kiev Theological Academy, from where they were seized by the Bolsheviks after the revolution to be placed in an "anti-religious museum". These relics ended up in the Khanenko Museum in 1941.

"No one, except for a small circle, knew that we were doing this," said Maximilien Durand, director of the Byzantine and Eastern Christian Art Department at the Louvre.

Whether the relics will be returned to Kiev is not reported.

Earlier, the UOJ reported that the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine bought 12 icons worth more than 120,000 UAH.

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