Both the Church of Ireland and Catholic Archbishops of Dublin have issued an appeal for the return of the head of an 800 year old mummy which was stolen during from Saint Michan’s Church, Dublin, at the weekend.
Archbishop Michael Jackson and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin spoke following a visit to the crypt of St Michan’s Church on Wednesday 27 February where they surveyed the damage done during the break in. They were joined by Assistant Garda Commissioner Pat Leahy.
The perpetrators forced their way into the crypt and moved parts of the remains of the mummy known as ‘the Crusader’. They scattered some of his bones outside his coffin and stole his head along with a skull which was also to be found in the crypt. They also moved the remains of two other people, including a nun who has lain there for 400 years. At the same time the intruders broke into the family vault of William Rowan Hamilton, the 19th century mathematician whose studies paved the way for quantum theory.
On emerging from the crypt, Archbishop Jackson described the damage as “barbaric” 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 before appealing for its return. “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. I want to assure people that I will return here to reconsecrate the crypt. It is right to reconsecrate an area that has been desecrated,” he stated.
He expressed his concern that once out of the microclimate of the crypt, the mummified remains would quickly disintegrate.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin also described the act as desecration. “As a Dubliner, this is an offence against the city. All Dubliners know about Saint 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,” he said.
When asked about forgiveness, Archbishop Martin said that to be forgiven a person must ask for forgiveness and say sorry. Archbishop Jackson added that restoration of the head would be a start.
Archbishop Jackson added that within the Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough Saint Michan’s Church is very important. It is dear to the hearts of many, those who work in the areas, those who come to worship in the church and those who gather at the beginning of each legal year, he stated.
“Part of the heritage of this place that we have to share is the uniqueness of the mummified bodies in the crypt. 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,” he said.
While Saint Michan’s Church remains open for regular parish worship, the tours and access to the crypt have been suspended. It is not clear yet when they will reopen to the public. Garda investigations into the incident continue.
Source: [Text and photo] www.dublin.anglican.org