Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Relic thefts

The heart of St. Laurence O'Toole (Lorcán Ua Tuathail in Gaelic), preserved since the 12th c., was stolen from Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin over the weekend. The heart-shaped wooden box containing the relic (1st image, more photos here and here) was removed by prying open the iron-barred case bolted to the wall. "The vergers realized it was gone when they opened the cathedral at 9:30am on Saturday morning. It was definitely there the evening before. They also noticed that there were 2 peace candles lit on the Trinity Altar. It's all very strange. Somebody must have hid in the cathedral overnight on Friday and slipped out first thing on Saturday morning....Nobody has ever attempted to steal the heart in the past; it was just there and it never crossed my mind that it might be stolen. It has no monetary value but we have loads of silver. It's the last thing we thought would be stolen. St Laurence O'Toole is the patron saint of the capital. His heart was our link with the past. It's an artefact, a relic and has particular meaning to Christ Church," said Rev. Dermot Dunne, Dean of Christ Church (2nd image, video here). The thief apparently used strong shears to cut into the cage, but there is only speculation as to why. Added security will now be added, although the doors were already protected with alarms and security cameras. Police are studying the footage in an attempt to find the burglar, while Rev. Dunne is pleading for the relic's return: "I am appealing to whoever did this to hand it back; it's a desecration of a holy place. I'll take it back without any questions asked, we just want it back."

This is the 3rd such theft in Ireland in recent months. In October 2011, 3 relics of the true cross were taken from Holy Cross Abbey near Cashel in Co. Tipperary. A gang of 3 men snatched one of the pieces in its 12th c. monstrance (photo here) and forcibly opened a display cabinet to remove the other 2 in their cruciform container (3rd image). Devastated at the loss, parish priest Fr. Tom Breen was elated when the relics were recovered in January. And just 2 days before the parishioners of St. Brigid’s Church in Killester, north Dublin, were due to celebrate the feast day of their patroness last month, her reliquary was swiped by a thief operating alone at midday. The shrine (4th image), which had been bolted to the altar and was worth an estimated $13,000, usually housed part of the cheekbone of St. Brigid, who died early in the 6th Century, was not in the shrine at the time. “We had just had the reliquary cleaned, so luckily the relic wasn’t in it at the time. It was renovated and quite shiny and in fact that might have been what drew the person to it,” said parish priest Monsignor Alex Stenson.

1 comment:

  1. Almost sounds like folks are reading thrillers.. and then.. going on some insane, made-up quest.. As some of the items stolen previously were returned.. one must ask.. are they on a REAL mission.. or just bonkers from getting to involved in a good book?


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