Young man arrested over ‘desecration’ and theft of 800-year-old skull at Dublin crypt

Young man arrested over ‘desecration’ and theft of 800-year-old skull at Dublin crypt

A young man has been arrested for the ransacking and “desecration” of an historic church crypt in Dublin.

The person is in his 20s and was arrested yesterday (March 7) over the break-in at St Michan’s Church of Ireland Church. The incident involved the theft of the head of an 800-year-old mummy known as ‘the Crusader’.

Gardaí recovered the head a few days ago. They are detaining the individual at Bridewell Garda Station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.

The raid on the crypt on Dublin’s Church Street was discovered at 1pm on Monday, February 25, when a tour guide was preparing to open the church for visitors.

A steel internal gate had been removed, and several mummies had been damaged. Among these were the 400-year-old remains of a nun and an 800-year-old ‘crusader’, whose head had been severed and stolen.

The head of the mummified nun had been turned 180 degrees to face the wrong direction while a third mummy had been turned on its side. The crypt of the family of Irish mathematician William Hamilton was also damaged.

With 28,000 visitors a year the Archdeacon of Dublin David Pierpoint warned that closing the crypts would affect the revenue needed to maintain the historic church which was founded in 1095.

A Garda spokesperson said this morning: “Gardaí investigating a break-in and theft at St Michan’s Church on 23rd/25th February 2019 have arrested a man in his 20s.”

Following the earlier recovery of ‘the Crusader’s’ head on Tuesday of this week they said the National Museum of Ireland were acting with them in an “advisory capacity”.

“The items were recovered as a result of information that came into the possession of the investigating officers,” they said. On the same day Archdeacon Pierpoint thanked officers and the public for their help in returning the remains.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic last week following the incident, Fr Bryan Shortall, parish priest of St Michan’s Catholic Church on nearby Halston Street, said the attack had shocked locals.

“It’s a real shame, a real shock, and an attack on Christian communities,” he said. “Are we now fearful of the remains of our loved ones? Why do people want to desecrate places where we bury our dead?”