Dublin has one of the most ghoulish churches in the world displaying the bodies of several medieval people and others dead for centuries. The quality of the air has allowed for an incredible state of preservation. One body, dubbed the crusader, has been a tourist draw for many years. But recently, the head of the crusader was stolen.
Back in 1976, aged 12, I was taken to see the mummified body of the crusader in the vault of the church of Saint Michan’s in Dublin, Ireland. The decayed corpse is still on display in an opened coffin. Back then, the crusader’s fingers were polished and you were allowed to shake his hand. This was stopped in 2017. But at the time, I had no hesitation giving the long dead Templar a warm greeting!
Attack on the medieval bodies in 1996
But of course, there are people who must take things to the next level. Back in 1996, the crypt was broken into, bodies strewn around, coffins prized open, and a fire started. Why would anybody do this? Because they’re idiots. This would not be the last act of major vandalism.
Another attack in 2019
In February 2019, another idiot laid into the corpse of the crusader and pulled the head off this 800 year old warrior. For a fortnight, the crusader lay headless after being undisturbed since breathing his last at the time of the Templars.
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Thankfully, in March this year, the head (pictured below – photo by the Irish Garda) was recovered. The 31 year old thief was sentenced to 28 months in prison. Unbelievably he not only stole two heads but smashed the crusader’s body and “interfered” with other ancient bodies. Apparently he had a history of narcotics and alcohol abuse but was not mentally ill.
Frankly, it makes me mad. Fifteen years ago I went back to the church with some friends who are medical doctors. They were able to conduct an impromptu medical investigation on the crusader even guessing at the cause of death. Whether they could that now is open to question.
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Still, if you are visiting Dublin – and I’m going there for New Year 2020 – please go to the church of St Michan’s. There’s an eighteenth century building at ground level and then will be lowered through a hatch down to medieval monastic cells. It’s an eery experience – but what a shame this worthless individual has perpetrated such a crime on the long dead.