A stolen relic in France that is said to contain the blood of Christ has been returned after the thieves apparently grew fearful of keeping such a revered object.
The relic – which contains two vials encased in a gold-plated box – was stolen from Holy Trinity Abbey Church in Fécamp, France, on the night of June 1, stunning Catholics in the region who make an annual pilgrimage to the location.
But it has since been returned thanks to the work of art detective Arthur Brand, known as the “Indiana Jones of the art world,” who received a mysterious email from someone claiming to know where the relic was.
If he didn’t help them return the relic to the church, the email said, they would trash it.
“If you can do this for us, you can put this on your legacy,” the email said, according to ArtNet.com, a popular international art website.
He asked the emailer to leave the relic on his doorstep in the Netherlands.
“On a Tuesday evening, the doorbell rang at 10:30,” Brand said. “I looked outside – I could see nobody, but I saw a box, and I ran downstairs, and there it was. Then I started to believe it was real.”
He assumes the thieves grew “spooked” about holding the relic.
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, who is Catholic, said it was “as close as one can get to Jesus Christ, The Knights Templar and the Holy Grail.”
Being in possession of the box, he said, changed his behavior.
“I didn’t curse,” he said. “When I went from the shower to my bedroom, I put a towel around my body so I was not naked.”
According to a local website, legend says the church was built “from the trunk of a fig tree in which the Precious Blood of Christ had been hidden and which miraculously washed ashore on the beach of Fécamp.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/LightFieldStudios
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.