Monday, January 14, 2013

Relic Theft

Readers may recall the post from back in September which reported that Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, had been named one of the top ten "cool" village destination in the United States owing to its French colonial heritage.  Today's piece of Ste. Genevieve-related news is less joyful. 

The Roman Catholic parish church there, the oldest in the archdiocese, is home to a number of relics --pieces of bone, scraps of a garment, locks of hair -- of saints.  It is said to hold the largest collection of Ste. Genevieve's relics outside of France.  Hold, or rather... have held.  Over the Christmas holiday, a thief walked off with nine of them, leaving the reliquaries, their containers, behind.  Last week, the empty reliquaries were noticed by a cleaning crew.  For a fuller story, see here.

I should point out that, though the parish was founded in 1759, the construction of the current building dates only to 1876, and that the relics in question arrived from Rome not during the colonial period, but in the 1930s and 1940s.

It brings back to mind another theft, which occured at the Maison Hamel-Bruneau, in Quebec City, back in 2008.  Among the objects stolen from a temporary exhibition at this small museum were two which had been borrowed from the Musée huron-wendat at Wendake : a silver reliquary shaped like the Virgin Mary's shirt, given to the Huron-Wendat community in 1676, and an ornate silver ciborium dating to 1675-1676.  Two masterpieces, and irreparable losses.  Here's to hoping that they haven't been melted and will one day surface.


1 comment:

  1. When I worked in a small, two-man operation marine museum in a not very affluent part of Ontario, things would often disappear. There was no money for security systems and the like, and so we often had to rely on the solid morals and unshakeable character of the visitors.

    Sadly, it wasn't solid or unshakeable enough to ensure that my favourite artifact, a bicorne hat, didn't go missing. I hope they find their relics.