Church relic stolen a second time
A relic has been stolen from a rural church for a second time.
Thieves took the Relic of the True Cross from the Holy Cross Church in Killeshin, on the Carlow/Laos border, on Wednesday.
Fr John Dunphy, parish priest, said the relic has no monetary value but is of enormous spiritual value to his parishioners and Catholics across Ireland, who believe the priceless artefact has links with the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
It is made of pewter - tin and copper - and painted gold and contains a three millimetre by three millimetre piece of wood behind glass.
Fr Dunphy said he felt numb when the relic, which was gifted to the church when it was built in 1822 by Rome - was stolen from a glass case in the sanctuary.
"It's of no monetary value," said Fr Dunphy, who locks away any valuable items like candlesticks when the church is open. "I hope when they get it checked out they will realise this and will leave it somewhere. It was stolen before, in 2000, and when they discovered it was no value they put it in a quarry and it was given back to us."
Fr Dunphy said the relic was left in the church as people regularly visit to venerate and worship it: "People would come and ring me and ask me to take it out and bless them with it. They came from all over Ireland to see it."
Security has been stepped up in churches around the country after several holy relic raids in recent years.
A holy shrine that normally contains a relic of St Brigid was previously stolen from a church in Killester, north Dublin, while the preserved heart of Dublin's patron saint was taken from the city's Christ Church cathedral.
Another priceless ancient relic, also believed to be from the cross on which Jesus was crucified, was stolen from the Holycross Abbey, near Thurles, last year but later recovered in a Garda search. And last month a priceless bronze bell, believed to weigh anything up to 28 stone, was stolen from a former church in Kerry.