Looking through the database of stolen artifacts compiled within the Muinsuskaitseamet 's (Estonia's National Heritage Board) Register of Cultural Monuments, you will see a story of lost culture beginning to unfold.
639 artifacts are listed, taken primarily from churches. Icons, crosses, candlesticks, silver plates and chalices, sculptures, chandeliers, brass sconces pulled from walls, and even bronze tower bells. Some of these objects were stolen in the 1970s, a majority of them were taken in the 80s and 90s, and some were stolen during the early 2000s.
One listing shows several painted wooden sculptures from the early 16th century that were taken in February 1999 from St. Peter and St. Paul's Lutheran church in Kaarma, on the island of Saaremaa.
Multiple listings come from an Estonian Orthodox church in the town of Valga, southern Estonia. Here, four separate acts of burglary were committed between 1983 and 1997, and countless icons and other items were lost.
An icon of St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker, painted with oil and tempera on board. (Photo by R. Laanmaa, from register.muinas.ee)
The reality is that for a church in a smaller town...
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