Photo Credit: United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough
An ecumenical appeal for the return of the mummified head of an 800-year-old body known as “The Crusader” has been made by the Anglican and Roman Catholic Archbishops of Dublin. The head was stolen during a raid on the crypt of St Michan’s Church in Dublin at the weekend. The crypt, a popular tourist attraction, contained other mummified remains, including the 400-year-old remains of a nun, which were also vandalised in the attack. Since news of the attack first broke earlier this week, it has emerged that the intruders also broke into the family vault of William Rowan Hamilton, the 19th century mathematician whose studies paved the way for quantum theory and stole another skull.
Yesterday (Wednesday) the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Archbishops of Dublin, Michael Jackson and Diarmuid Martin, made a joint visit to the crypt to see the damage alongside Assistant Garda (police) Commissioner Pat Leahy. Afterwards they issued a joint appeal for the return of the remains.
Archbishop Michael described the damage as “desecration” and “significant” and spoke of the overwhelming support the parish has received from the local community since the break in. “I would like to thank all members of the community for their support and appeal to them to keep their eyes open in case the head of The Crusader has been dumped,” he said. “On its own the head is useless. But it will mean so much to the people of Dublin to have it restored to its resting place.”
He expressed his concern that once out of the microclimate of the crypt, the mummified remains would quickly disintegrate.
He said that he would return to the Church to re-consecrate the crypt at the appropriate time “It is right to re-consecrate an area that has been desecrated,” he said.
Archbishop Diarmuid also described the act as desecration, saying: “as a Dubliner, this is an offence against the city. All Dubliners know about St Michan’s. This is so sad.
“We have to find a way to restore harmony. I appeal for the return of The Crusader’s head but I am worried about the damage they did – I wonder about the mentality behind it.”
When asked about forgiveness, Archbishop Diarmuid said that to be forgiven a person must ask for forgiveness and say sorry. Archbishop Michael added that restoration of the head would be a start.
“Part of the heritage of this place that we have to share is the uniqueness of the mummified bodies in the crypt”, Archbishop Michael said. “I thank the Vicar and the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, who is the Rector, and the parishioners for their custodianship and their patience. I stand with them in the hope that it will be restored.
St Michan’s Church remains open for regular parish worship; but public tours and access to the crypt have been suspended while Garda (police) investigations into the incident continue.