The reliquary containing two lead ampulla, themselves containing a few drops of the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, were stolen from the Abbey Church of the Trinity in Fécamp, on the night of June 1-2, 2022, as well as other valuables items.
The theft occurred two weeks before the annual celebration of the Mass of the Precious Blood, the day the relic is presented to the faithful. The Mass will be maintained on June 14, but it will be preceded by “reparation,” in the liturgical sense of the term, because this theft is a desecration.
The relic has been venerated for 1,000 years at the abbey church of Fécamp nicknamed “the door of heaven.” It is at the origin of the foundation of the Abbey of the Holy Trinity. The pilgrimage and procession of the Precious Blood are part of the history of the town of Fécamp.
Msgr. Jean-Luc Brunin, Bishop of Le Havre, the diocese to which the city of Fécamp belongs, expressed his deep sorrow: “Beyond the market value of the reliquary, there is the attachment of an entire population and generations of believers who celebrated the Precious Blood. This theft is an unbearable attack on the faith of all people who remember the Salvation obtained by the sacrifice of Christ.”
The reliquary, a 19th century copper casket, housed the two lead ampulla containing the drops of the Precious Blood, collected at the cross. Traditionally kept in a marble tabernacle, sculpted in the 16th century, and placed in an apsidal chapel of the church, the casket was however kept in a locked glass cabinet in the sacristy at the time of the theft.
The investigation was entrusted to the Central Office for the Fight against Trafficking in Cultural Property. According to information from Paris Normandie, the burglar or burglars had probably been locked up in the church on Wednesday evening, the door of the sacristy having been forced from the inside. The theft was discovered Thursday morning. No surveillance system had been installed inside or around the abbey.
The burglary of the Fécamp Abbey could be part of the trafficking of relics, estimates a member of the faithful. The illicit trade in relics has reportedly increased in recent years, prompting a warning from the Vatican in 2017.
According to the legend, the ampulla of the reliquary arrived in Normandy by sea, in the trunk of a fig tree which floated towards Fécamp from Palestine. But some think it could be a memento from the First Crusade. Be that as it may, the Precious Blood has been the object of pilgrimage since the 12th century. Five miracles have been attributed to the relic currently.