Dublin: Masked thieves have raided an abbey
in Ireland and stolen a Christian relic which is said to be
part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified, police said
The relic, held in a 14th-century silver artefact
containing two crosses and two dark stones, has been an object
of devotion since around 1180, the priest at Holy Cross Abbey
in County Tipperary said.
Father Thomas Breen appealed for the thieves to return
the 30 centimetre relic, which he said was of little
commercial value but had "immeasurable worth in religious
A foot-high gold and bronze cross standing on its own
base and containing a centrepiece that could hold the Host,
the wafers used during communion, was also stolen in the
brazen raid on Tuesday afternoon.
Two men with their faces covered entered the abbey with
an angle grinder, a hammer and screwdriver, and were then seen
coming out shortly afterwards and making off in a jeep driven
by a third gang member, police said.
Breen said the church had been concerned about security
following the disappearance of three sets of keys three weeks
ago, including the key to the secure steel cabinet holding the
A locksmith had replaced all the locks last week, but the
thieves cut through the cabinet.
"The local community and the friends of the abbey are
totally devastated today," Breen told RTE radio, adding that
he was shared their devastation.
The local archbishop, Dermot Clifford, said the theft was
an "outrage" and appealed for the relic`s return.
"The sacred relic is a portion of the True Cross upon
which Our Lord was crucified... The unlawful removal of this
relic is regarded as an outrage by the people of faith who
value its spiritual and historic importance," he said.
Breen said the relic was presented to the abbey by an
Irish king, Donal Mor O`Brien, some time around 1180.
"It quickly became a source of devotion and pilgrimage
and has remained so for the last 900 years," Breen said.