[MGSA-L] Frescos hacked-off walls of post Byzantine church

June Samaras june.samaras at gmail.com
Mon Jan 14 12:17:32 PST 2013


Frescos hacked-off walls of post Byzantine church

The violent removal by primitive means of wall paintings dating back
to 1554, made by the famous iconographer Onoufrios, from the orthodox
church of Aghia Paraskevi in Gjinari of Elbasan, caused a series of
various reactions.

University professors, researchers, archaeologists, and scholars raise
their voices against this vandalism act, that damaged another rare
cultural monument of orthodox heritage in Albania.

The Historical Heritage Forum in Albania organized a protest rally in
front of the Ministry of Culture.

However, the reactions do not refer to the religious aspect of the
event, but only to its cultural significance.

The vandalism acts took place on December 30, 2012 and on January 4,
2013. Despite the fact that police were immediately informed after the
first theft, when the heads of five saints were removed, no measures
were taken. The robbers came back and removed other parts of the

Talking to AMNA, the head of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of
Albania, Gentian Stratoberdha, said that thefts, vandalisms and
desecrations of orthodox churches in fact never stopped. In the last
two years similar thefts occurred in 20 churches and monasteries,
which are also important cultural monuments. Mr. Stratoberdha
mentioned the areas of these thefts, which are Berati, Gjirokastër and
Korçë, in other words the south of the land.

Mr. Stratoberdha also said that after the thieves had finished their…
work with the icons and other valuable movable objects of the orthodox
churches, they have now turned to the wall paintings.

Mr. Stratoberda wonders why police haven’t yet arrested none of the
thieves. He also expresses his concern that this might lead to a
“total loss of our Christian heritage”.

The Albanian Ministry of Culture in a recent statement has denounced
the theft as “vandal”, and pointed out that “given the big number of
religious monuments, it would be practically impossible to guard them
around the clock”. In the statement, it is also mentioned that in
cases like the one of the Aghia Paraskevi Church, where the religious
institutions are being used by believers, the protection and care of
the monuments is not only the state’s concern but also that of the
believers’ community.

On this matter there is a disagreement between the Orthodox Church and
the Albanian Ministry of Culture. The Ministry’s director of the
Cultural Heritage Department, Apollon Bace insists that “respecting
the law, we have asked the Orthodox Church to take over approximately
380 churches and monasteries that until now were under the
jurisdiction of the state, but the orthodox clergy refused to take
them over”.

The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, insists that the number of
these monuments is 170 and not 380, because the church refers only to
churches that can be used by the Christians. The rest of them either
cannot be used because they are ruined, or they are rather monuments
of archaeological and not religious interest (like the ones of the
Late Christian period).

The Church’s representatives also point out that this procedure will
be carried out gradually, and that the Church claims to take over not
only the buildings but all the estate surrounding the monuments, as
the plot. The Church also claims that, even after they are handed over
to the orthodox clergy, the state will remain responsible for their
protection and preservation.

Source: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ via Archaiologia Online [January 14, 2013]

June Samaras
(For Books about Greece)
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : kalamosbooks at gmail.com

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June Samaras
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : june.samaras at gmail.com

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