GARDAÍ in Abbeyleix are continuing their investigation into the theft of a relic of ‘great spiritual’ value from Holy Cross Church in the village of Killeshin.
The ‘Relic of the True Cross’ was presented to the church by Pope Pius VII in 1822 and it was stolen last Wednesday, some time between 10am and 5.30pm.
“The relic is of no monetary value whatsoever but is very much treasured by the people of Killeshin,” outlined Fr John Dunphy PP.
The relic is stored in a 30mm diameter glass chamber in a crucifix made from pewter which is painted in gold colour. It is approximately 250mm high by 125mm wide with a 125mm square base and was embedded within the wall of the church.
The crime was discovered when a woman who had come to the church to light a candle noticed that the case in which the relic has been displayed since 2005 had been smashed. She informed the church caretaker who immediately alerted Gardaí.
The relic, which is said to have been from the cross on which Jesus was crucified at Calvary, was previously stolen twelve years ago but was later discovered discarded in a local quarry.
Pat Whelan, Killeshin Sodality Group secretary explained, “In 2000 the relic and three chalices were forcefully removed from the tabernacle of the church during a night time break in. A short time later the relic and two of the chalices were found at a disused quarry in county Carlow.
“After been restored in 2005 it was decided to put the relic on pernament display in a locked safe with a heavy glass panel beside the altar and since then it has attracted many visitors.”
Gardaí wish to speak to anyone who may have visited the Holy Cross Church last Wednesday between 10am and 6pm and seen anything unusual or suspicious in the area or be in a position to assist with the investigation to contact them at Abbeyleix Garda Station at 057 87 30580, The Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.