Byzantine frescoes leaving Montrose chapel

In 1984, the Orthodox Church of Cyprus and the Menil Foundation entered into an agreement under which the frescoes would be on long-term loan to the Menil Foundation, which would restore, protect, and ultimately build a space that would honor the frescoes as works of artistic and spiritual importance

March 4, 2012 9:50:38 AM PST
Today is your final chance to see two 700-year-old relics in Houston.

Two one-of-a-kind Byzantine frescoes will be dismantled and sent back home to the island of Cyprus.

The pieces of history have been on display at a chapel in the heart of Montrose for years.

The frescoes once adorned a small church in Cyprus, but when civil war broke out in the 1970s, art thieves looted the church and stole them.

The relics were cut into 38 fragments before they were sold to the late Dominique de Menil, art patron and founder of The Menil Collection.

The Byzantine Fresco Chapel opened in 1997. Upon its opening, de Menil explained why she paid more than $1 million to buy and restore the frescoes.

"I felt this was something so beautiful that it could not just be lost. Once dispersed, they would never, never have been able to be put back together," she said.

De Menil promised the archbishop of Cyprus she would return the frescoes in 20 years.

The chapel planned to stay open until 10pm Sunday for anyone hoping to get one last look at the pieces of history. The chapel is located at 4011 Yupon Street at Branard.