Reverend gives praise as stolen cross returned
A HISTORIC cross which was found on sale in a junk shop after being stolen from a city church has been reunited with its owners.
The 100-year-old three-foot cross taken from the Church of St John the Evangelist in Princes Street was spotted by police during checks on a second-hand dealer.
It was never reported missing by the church, but officers were convinced that it had been removed from a place of worship.
They launched an appeal through the Evening News and one eagle-eyed reader recognised the brass-plated artefact.
Church officials never noticed that it had been stolen as it is only used a few times a year during important religious ceremonies.
Rector Rev Dr John Armes today spoke of his delight that the cross had been safely returned before the Christmas Eve service for the 170-strong congregation.
He said: "It’s a very special and ornate cross which we only use for occasions such as Easter and Pentecost. It’s a processional cross which is screwed on to a pole.
"The cross was removed from its pole after the service and we thought it had been returned to the basement where it’s kept. Obviously some opportunist came in and managed to take it out in a bag or under their jacket.
"We had no idea it was missing and were surprised when the police came to us. It would not have been used again until Christmas Eve so the theft would only have been discovered then. It would certainly have spoiled Christmas.
"It’s a beautiful piece of work and precious to the church but I don’t think it would have been very sellable. It certainly would have stuck out in a junk shop."
The cross, which has amethysts on its arms, is covered in engravings and has a lamb in the centre with a halo above its head.
Dr Armes, who has served as rector for six years, said he believed the cross was crafted in the late 19th to early 20th century.
He added: "It is brilliant it has been found. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the police for their work and the Evening News for helping us recover it."
The police became convinced that the unusual find had been taken from a church after recovering it on November 15. They carried out checks to see if there had been any record of a similar theft. But the investigation drew a blank and led officers to make an appeal for information through the Evening News.
A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: "We are delighted to reunite the cross with its rightful owners, the Church of St John the Evangelist in Princes Street. We hoped that by running an appeal in the Evening News one of the readers might recognise it. As a result, a member of the public contacted police and said they believed it came from the church. We were then able to check with the church and they were amazed to find out it belonged to them." The spokesman added that inquiries into the theft were continuing.
The cross was the latest in a long line of items to be seized from shops throughout the Capital in the last two months.
Three weeks ago, a 20,000 antique violin stolen from a city centre bus stop was returned to its owner after police caught the thief trying to sell it to a musical instrument dealer.
And last month, a stolen painting, Picking Blossom, by Edward Hornel, was recovered by police after going under the hammer at a city auction. The artwork was stolen by professional criminals from a house in Corstorphine in 1991.
In September, a silver communion set stolen from a city centre church was found by police in a junk shop. The 150-year-old silverware, worth 20,000, was stolen from St George’s West Church in Shandwick Place.
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