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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Germany Returns Icon

  • Germany’s ambassador to Moscow returned a 16th-century icon to the Russian Orthodox Church on Thursday, more than 50 years after it was taken from western Russia by Nazi invaders in World War II.

    At a ceremony hosted by German Ambassador Ernst-Joerg von Studnitz, Patriarch Alexy II personally accepted the icon, which commemorates a 16th-century victory by the citizens of Pskov over their Polish landlords.

    "For us, this is primarily not of material value but of spiritual value," the patriarch said in televised comments. "We have the concept of a venerated icon in the sense that many generations have prayed before it."

    The icon had been in a private collection in the southern German state of Bavaria, NTV television said.

    Alexy told reporters he would also like the Russian state to return church property that it acquired during the Soviet era, Interfax reported.