(Washington Heights, New York, United States) – Police arrested Washington Dominguez, a 64 year old man from Washington Heights on Wednesday for allegedly stealing an icon from Saint Spyridon Orthodox Church. Dominguez, who is shown on the video limping to the painting, is captured on video on May 8, 2016 allegedly hiding the painting under his clothes before rushing off. Police say that Dominguez lives only six blocks away from the church and that he has been charged with burglary.
Although the alleged suspect has been apprehended, police have yet to recover the icon. Church leaders have said that they want it returned to them as soon as possible. The icon is created using a “gold-leaf” technique and depicts Saint Spyridon of Cyprus, of whom the church is named. The icon, which is valued at $5000, was created by Constantine Youssis, a top iconographer in the Byzantine tradition. It shows a detailed image of the saint who is said to have healed the sick on a regular basis and legend also states that he helped cause it to rain during a drought.
According to Father Evagoras Constantinides, the church is working extra hard to try to get the painting back. He has said, “We are focused and prayerful and intent on doing whatever we can to recover the icon of our patron saint. It belongs in our house of worship. It belongs with our people…This is definitely something that is missing from the life of our parish.” It is important to the people of the Greek community in Washington Heights to get the icon back.
Saint Spyridon was born in Cyprus and worked as a shepherd. He is said to have been alive from 270 to 340 AD. He is known to have performed a lot of good works for the church, such as converting pagans to Christianity. He even is said to have converted a well-known pagan philosopher to the priesthood. He eventually become a priest in the Orthodox Church and then towards the end of his life, he became the Bishop of Trimythous. His remains are currently being housed in a church in Corfu, Greece.