Saturday 23 March 2019

Gardai recover head of 800-year-old 'Crusader' following tip-off

The skull which was recovered by gardai
The skull which was recovered by gardai
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Gardai have found the head of an 800-year-old Crusader which was stolen after vandals broke into a Dublin church and decapitated his mummified remains.

The discovery was made today after gardai were contacted about information of its whereabouts.

Another skull taken from the crypt in St Michan's Church on the weekend of February 24 was also recovered.

Gardai thanked the public for its assistance in the investigation, which remains ongoing.

David Pierpoint, Archdeacon of Dublin beside the entrance to one of the Crypts in St Michans Church, which was broken into and vandalised. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
David Pierpoint, Archdeacon of Dublin beside the entrance to one of the Crypts in St Michans Church, which was broken into and vandalised. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
David Pierpoint, Archdeacon of Dublin beside a sign advising people the church and vaults are closed due to the the break in and vandalism of the Crypts in St Michans Church. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
David Pierpoint, Archdeacon of Dublin beside the entrance to one of the Crypts in St Michans Church, which was broken into and vandalised. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
The entrance to one of the Crypts in St Michans Church, which was broken into and vandalised. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
St Michans Church on Church street which is currently closed due to the break in and vandalism of one the crypts under the church. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
David Pierpoint, Archdeacon of Dublin beside a sign advising people the church and vaults are closed due to the the break in and vandalism of the Crypts in St Michans Church. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
A sign advising people the church and vaults are closed due to the the break in and vandalism of a Crypt in St Michans Church. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
David Pierpoint, Archdeacon of Dublin pictured outside St Michans Church where a Crypt was broken into and vandalised. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM

A garda spokesman said the National Museum of Ireland are acting in an advisory capacity following the discovery.

The body of a 400-year-old nun was also interfered with and her head turned the wrong way around after vandals managed to break through a steel door and a metal gate leading to the crypt almost two weeks ago.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said he is “delighted” that both the head of the Crusader and the skull taken from St Michan’s Church has been recovered. 

“As Archbishop of Dublin, I should like to thank the Gardaí and everyone else who has worked tirelessly to make this possible,” he said. 

“The National Museum of Ireland are now acting in an advisory capacity. 

“The emphasis will now be able to turn to consideration of future security and display of the remains in the crypt of St Michan’s. 

“Renewed thanks go to all who have shown interest and concern for the mummies. They are a priceless part of the heritage of the city of Dublin and its citizens.”

The Church of Ireland’s Archdeacon of Dublin, the Venerable David Pierpoint, described the damage as "vandalism, sacrilege, desecration".

St Michan’s has six CCTV cameras operating on the grounds, including one pointing directly at the vault doors, which is hoped will help identify those responsible.

In a statement following the incident, the Church of Ireland’s Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Reverend Michael Jackson, appealed for those responsible to return the head of the Crusader.

"I am shocked that someone would target this ancient burial place and desecrate the remains of those lying within it.

"Not only have these individuals desecrated the sacred crypt but they have destroyed these historic mummies which have been preserved in St Michan’s for hundreds of years. I would appeal to those responsible to examine their consciences and return the head of The Crusader to its rightful place," he stated.

"The actions of these people are devastating and sacrilegious.

"We are upset at the amount of damage that has been caused. But also the crypt will have to close so tourists will not be able to visit.

"It is very frustrating," he said adding: "I would appeal to anyone with information to contact the gardaí," he added.

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