London: British police were searching
on Friday vandals who chopped down a thorn tree venerated for
centuries by Christians.
The Glastonbury Holy Thorn Tree, said to have links to
the earliest days of Christianity in England, has been reduced
to a six-foot stump by vandals who sawed off its limbs.
The desecration happened the night after a sprig from
the tree was cut off in a ceremony so it could be given to
Queen Elizabeth II to decorate her Christmas table, said
Glastonbury Mayor John Coles.
Coles believes the traditional ceremony may have
sparked a backlash.
"Whether the person responsible for the deed saw the
ceremony on local television or witnessed it, it`s rather a
coincidence that it was done that same night," he said. "We
don`t know whether it`s one person responsible or a group."
Coles said the cutting ceremony usually involves the
oldest child at a local nursery and the local vicar and mayor.
The queen always sends a letter of thanks, he added.
Glastonbury, 125 miles (200 kilometres) west of
London, is best known for its annual rock music festival that
has drawn artists such as Bruce Springsteen since the 1960s.
Religious tradition holds that the original tree was
planted by St. Joseph of Arimathea - the wealthy merchant who
volunteered his tomb to Jesus - after he first made landfall
in England some 2,000 years ago. The chopped-down tree is
thought to be descended from the original and sprouted on
Wearyall Hill in Glastonbury.
"The story goes that Joseph of Arimathea pushed his
staff into the ground and pronounced it to be weary - that`s
why it`s known as Wearyall Hill," said Coles. "The tree is
said to have grown from the staff. It`s something you can`t
prove or disprove."