An invaluable holy relic said to be from the cross Jesus Christ died on has been stolen from an ancient monastery in Ireland.
The miniature artefact brought to Holy Cross Abbey in Thurles, Co Tipperary, in the late 12th century was taken by two masked men in a daylight raid on Tuesday.
Armed with an angle grinder, hammer and screwdriver, the pair stole a gold and bronze cross about 12 inches high with a glass-fronted centrepiece used to hold the relic.
It had been stored securely in a steel-bound display case.
Fr Tom Breen, parish priest of Holy Cross Abbey, said the relic has been the source of devotion and pilgrimage for 900 years.
“I would like to appeal to the thieves in the strongest possible terms not to damage the relic — just leave the artefacts in some church and they will eventually come back to me,” he said.
The thieves also stole a 14th-century silver holy cross, which had been hanging from a chain.