Friday, 27 January 2012

Saint Brigid's Reliquary Stolen!

I am shocked to learn that the beautiful reliquary which houses the relic of Saint Brigid at Killester in County Dublin has been stolen. I have previously posted on the return of the relics of Saint Brigid to Ireland here and here. As someone who has always appreciated being able to venerate the relics and treasures associated with our saints in an ecclesiastical setting, rather than having to view them behind glass in a museum case, this is a tragedy. Thank God that the actual relics of the saint did not fall into the hands of the thief, obviously he has never read his hagiography or he would know that to insult the honour and dignity of an Irish saint is not a wise move. Back in October 2011 a relic of the True Cross was stolen from Holy Cross Abbey in County Tipperary, thankfully it has now been recovered, may the reliquary of Saint Brigid be speedily returned to its rightful home.

€10,000 casket stolen from church in Dublin

AN ORNATE casket used to store a relic of St Brigid, whose feast day is today, has been stolen from a church in north Dublin.

The reliquary – a bronze cabinet with a distinctive Celtic design on its front and sides – was removed from St Brigid’s Church in Killester on Monday afternoon.

Parish priest Msgr Alex Stenson said the reliquary, valued at about €10,000, had recently been repaired.

He said it was “provident” that the relic – a shard of bone said to be part of St Brigid’s skull – had not yet been put back into the casket given that today is St Brigid’s Day.

Asked would there be special prayers today for a return of the casket, he said: “We’ll be happy enough with celebrating the feast of St Brigid and blessing people who wish to be with the relic.”

Msgr Stenson said the church had been left open on Monday afternoon following a well-attended funeral Mass and that the reliquary was removed between 12.30pm and 3pm.

The parish has passed on CCTV footage to gardaí, which Msgr Stenson said showed a man leaving the church with a bag that may have contained the reliquary.

Msgr Stenson said the church had occasionally fallen victim to thefts in the past and that the sacristy had been targeted in a few break-ins.

St Brigid – a patron saint of Ireland – was born in Co Louth in about AD450. The daughter of an Irish chieftain and a slave from his court, legend and lore link her to St Patrick. She died in AD525.

St Brigid is associated with the distinctive cross bearing her name and legend has it she made the first one from rushes to give to a pagan on his deathbed, which helped convert him to Christianity.

According to the History of Killester Church and Parish by Arthur Garrett, three Irish knights brought Saint Brigid’s carefully preserved skull to Portugal, during the crusades in the 1200s, where it was placed in a church at Lumiar, outside Lisbon, and where it remains. A shard of her skull was brought back to Ireland and placed here for the veneration of the people in the late 1920s and given to a Fr Traynor of Killester, under the seal of the cardinal of Lisbon.

“At the time it came as a great surprise to the majority of Irish people that this relic existed and that it had been carefully preserved in Portugal, where for hundreds of years the Portuguese had almost made St Brigid their own,” the book states.

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