Thieves have returned a gold shrine believed to contain vials of the blood of Jesus Christ stolen from a church in France.
The 2,000-year-old reliquary, called the “Precious Blood of Christ,” is among the Catholic Church’s holiest relics. Thieves stole the ornate shrine on June 2nd from Fecamp Abbey in Normandy. Authorities say the suspects had hidden in the church overnight and then made off with the reliquary along with works of art and gold pieces, according to UPI.
While investigators were searching for the stolen items, the “Precious Blood of Christ” artifact was suddenly returned.
It was left outside the door of Arthur Brand, a self-described art detective. Brand has such a knack for recovering stolen artworks that he’s been dubbed the “Dutch Indiana Jones.”
Brand, who proudly announced the news on Twitter, said the thieves had reached out to him a few weeks ago—without providing their names. Days later, and late at night, someone dropped off the artifact at his door, nearly 500 kilometers—around 300 miles— from where they had stolen it. He never saw them.
“I recovered the legendary ‘Blood of Jesus’ of Fécamp (‘Précieux Sang’), one of the oldest and holiest relics of the Catholic Church,” Brand wrote on his Twitter account on Monday. “Said to contain blood drops of Jesus Christ, collected in the Holy Grail from his wounds at the Cross. Stolen on June 2nd 2022 in France. AMEN!” he wrote.
I recovered the legendary ‘Blood of Jesus' of Fécamp ('Précieux Sang’), one of the oldest and holiest relics of the Catholic Church. Said to contain blood drops of Jesus Christ, collected in the Holy Grail from his wounds at the Cross. Stolen on June 2nd 2022 in France. AMEN! pic.twitter.com/YhgK8RaUaf
— Arthur Brand (art detective) (@brand_arthur) July 12, 2022
Brand has experience with pricy stolen objects, having located over two hundred works, UPI reported. He was said to have turned over the most recent find to Dutch police.
The reliquary has two vials of what is believed to be the blood of Jesus from his crucifixion. The gold shrine was stolen a couple of weeks before the “Mass of the Sacred Blood” was celebrated at Fecamp, an annual ritual that has brought pilgrims for 1,000 years to worship the “Blood of Jesus” relic.
Return of “Blood of Jesus” Relic
Brand believes the return of a stolen shrine had less to do with a holier power and more to do with practical reasoning on the part of the thieves, he told the BBC. While he said stealing a relic like that could be “a curse,” the thieves likely came to the conclusion they could never sell it, so “they knew they had to get rid of it,” Brand said.
The return of the shrine came as Greek authorities this week charged a Thessaloniki man in a separate case with holding a cathedral’s worth of Byzantine-era relics in his home. The list included church icons, crosses, candlesticks, and a holy chalice. Authorities confiscated the artifacts, which were also discovered in a warehouse belonging to the 59-year-old man, who was unidentified. He was allegedly trying to sell the possessions online when he was caught.