Louth shrine latest target in spate of relic thefts.Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
A shrine dedicated to the apostle St Jude is the latest in a series of religious sites hit by thieves this year.
A 228mm cross was taken from St Jude's Shrine in Calvary, Omeath, Co. Louth leaving the quiet community in a state of shock. Peter Mallon, chairperson of the Calvary Project committee, said the relic is, priceless and the people of the area just want to see it returned.
“We don't understand why someone would do this, we're totally shocked - people can't get over what has happened," he said. “The cross itself has very little monetary value but it means a lot to the people of the area,” he remarked.
“We have two relics here that both came from Rome,” he said. “The one that was stolen is attached to the statue while the other is brought to hospitals and people who need it.”
Mr Mallon said the theft was, “a well-planned robbery as the cross was in a box and behind the statue of St Jude. I left the shrine at 4:20pm and by the time I got to my home in Newry at 4:50pm I got a call to come back, so someone was watching.”
“They pulled the statue down to get at the cross as well; they just showed absolute contempt for the people of the area.”
People are still coming to the shrine, which is hugely popular with pilgrims from across Ireland who come to pray for favours, said Mr Mallon. Locals are hopeful the relic will be returned, he added, in particular for a Mass to be celebrated next month by the bishop of Nottingham in memory of a local priest, Fr Gentili.
The theft follows the disappearance of a case containing the preserved heart of St Laurence O’Toole from Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, the theft of True Cross relics from Holycross Abbey and the twelfth century shrine to St Manchan from a church in Boher, Co. Offaly.
by Fintan Deere