VANDALS who broke into the crypt of St Michan’s, Dublin, last weekend have stolen the head of an 800-year-old mummy known as “The Crusader”.
The theft was discovered on Monday by a tour guide. Several bodies, including that of a nun believed to be in the crypt for 400 years, were damaged.
The church, which also houses the organ on which Handel practised his Messiah, before its first performance in Fishamble Street near by, is part of the Christ Church Cathedral group, where the Rector is the Archdeacon of Dublin, the Ven. David Pierpoint.
The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, said: “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 ancient 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.”
Archdeacon Pierpoint said that the thieves’ actions were both devastating and sacrilegious. “We are upset at the amount of damage that has been caused. I would appeal to anyone with information to contact the Gardaí.”
There are many family vaults within the crypt, which was also vandalised in 1996. It is believed that the bodies were naturally preserved because of the exceptional lack of moisture in the ground on which St Michan’s was built. The first church on the site dates from 1095, but the current building was erected in 1686.
Dr Jackson was joined by the RC Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, in a visit to the crypt on Wednesday.