Gardai are searching for the culprits who decapitated an 800-year-old mummy known as The Crusader, after they broke into a crypt in St. Michan’s Church in Dublin, before fleeing with the head.
A tour guide made the discovery shortly before lunchtime as they were opening the church for visitors on Monday afternoon.
The incident is believed to have happened between 7pm on Saturday 23rd and 8am on Sunday 24th.
The body of a nun, in the crypt for over 300 years, was also vandalised, with her head being turned around. A separate skull to that of The Crusader is also missing.
St. Michan’s is one of the oldest parishes in Dublin, having being established in 1095. The church is a popular tourist attraction due to the underground vaults housing preserved bodies.
“Visitor numbers last year were about 26,000 – 27,000 people, quite considerable for a small little church.”
“The revenue alone helps the parish tick over. I’m not really worried about the revenue, I’m more worried about the desecration that’s happened. I’m just so saddened,” The Church of Ireland’s Archdeacon for Dublin, the Venerable David Pierpoint, told RTE’s LiveLine.
The vault vandalised at the weekend contained the remains of mathematician William Rowan Hamilton.
There will be a parish meeting to decide if the vaults will be reopened, with opening just for services and people just visiting the church itself, a possibility.
This is not the first time St. Michan’s has been vandalised, with mummified human remains previously destroyed in July 1996.
Around forty corpses were taken from sealed coffins and piled as the vandals looked for valuables in the vaults.
A further forty corpses and coffins were irreparably damaged by water used by the fire brigade to put out the blaze that had been started.
By Gerard Grimes
Image Credit: Metro News