Thefts of religious treasures in Macedonia on the rise

Posted: January 25, 2014 at 4:23 a.m.

In this photo taken Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, church guardian Mile Skrceski, left, looks at icon niches at the St. Nicholas church in village of Radozda, in southwestern Macedonia. Over the past decade, this small Balkan nation of 2.1 million has seen more than 10,000 religious artifacts stolen from its churches, including precious icons painted in the stylized Byzantine tradition. None of the works have been recovered. Thieves have removed whole sections of altar screens, altars, crosses, lamps and Bibles.

LAZAROPOLE, Macedonia — The sumptuous altar screen in this village church rises in tiers of crimson, royal blue and gold leaf, all the way up to a crucifix flanked by dragons. Near the top, icon niches gape empty like blown-out windows.

This story is only available from our archives.

Religion, Pages 12 on 01/25/2014