Dutch “Indiana Jones” recovers the relic of the blood of Jesus stolen from a French church

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An art sleuth known as “Dutch Indiana Jones” has recovered one of the most sacred objects ever stolen from the Catholic Church.

Arthur Brand, who is known for his incredible skills in finding stolen works of art, found the ‘Precious Blood of Christ’ relic – a reliquary believed to contain the blood of Jesus – six weeks after it was taken from an abbey from the north of France.

Mr Brand said the ornate golden shrine, which contains two lead vials believed to contain blood taken from Jesus during the crucifixion, was left anonymously on his doorstep in a cardboard box after being contacted by the thieves.

The art sleuth – who has already recovered a painting by Picasso, a sculpture known as Hitler’s Horses and a ring that once belonged to Oscar Wilde – is now planning to turn the relic over to Dutch police, who will return it in France.

A reliquary believed to contain drops of Jesus’ blood that was stolen from an abbey in northern France last month has been found by a legendary art sleuth

Arthur Brand said the thief took the item without knowing what it was, before a friend contacted him fearing he would be cursed if he did not return it.

Arthur Brand said the thief took the item without knowing what it was, before a friend contacted him fearing he would be cursed if he did not return it.

A view through the side of the reliquary shows the lead vials stored inside, which are said to contain the blood of Jesus collected into the Holy Grail as he died on the cross

A view through the side of the reliquary shows the lead vials stored inside, which are said to contain the blood of Jesus collected into the Holy Grail as he died on the cross

“As a Catholic myself, that’s about as close to Jesus and the legend of the Holy Grail as you can get,” he said.

Describing the moment he opened the cardboard box and found the artifact, he added: “It was an authentic and religious experience.”

The theft took place on June 1 when a thief allegedly hid inside the Abbey of Fécamp – about 100 miles west of Calais – at closing time so that they were locked away inside.

They then spent the night emptying the sacred building of precious objects, including what appears to be a chalice for communion wine, a ciborium for the Eucharist, liturgical dishes and a number of other gold objects.

But by far the most valuable item they stole was the Precious Blood of Christ.

The reliquary is a 30 cm high copper box which contains two lead vitals which, according to legend, were filled with blood collected from Jesus in the Holy Grail when he died on the cross more than 100 years ago. 2,000 years old.

The relic – adorned with gold, precious stones and depictions of Christ on the cross – said to have been sealed in a chest and thrown into the ocean before washing up in northern France.

Installed in the abbey of Fécamp, it has been attracting pilgrims for 1000 years.

Mr. Brand also recovered a dozen other liturgical objects from the same abbey and left anonymously on his doorstep late that night.

Mr. Brand also recovered a dozen other liturgical objects from the same abbey and left anonymously on his doorstep late that night.

The objects were removed from the Abbey of Fécamp, in northern France, on June 1, just two weeks before the annual celebration of the

The objects were removed from the abbey of Fécamp, in northern France, on June 1, just two weeks before the annual celebration of the “mass of the Sacred Blood”.

The relic was taken from Fécamp Abbey on June 1, before being brought back to Mr Brand inside a box on June 21 (right)

The relic was taken from Fécamp Abbey on June 1, before being brought back to Mr Brand inside a box on June 21 (right)

News of the theft was particularly shocking as it came just two weeks before the annual celebration of the “Mass of the Sacred Blood”.

Brand said his involvement in the case began days after the theft, when he received a protected email from an anonymous writer claiming to have the stolen loot in his possession.

“This person approached me on behalf of another, where the stolen relics were stored,” Brand said.

But “to have the ultimate relic, the blood of Jesus in your home, stolen, is a curse,” he said.

“When they realized what it was, that you actually can’t sell it, they knew they had to get rid of it.”

Brand showed AFP an email written in Dutch in which the person asked him to take back the stolen property, as it was too risky to return it to the abbey itself.

Brand was told the stolen item would be delivered to his home, but no date or time was given.

“I was practically a prisoner in my own house for a week. I couldn’t leave, he laughs.

Finally the items arrived, delivered by an anonymous sender, around 10:30 p.m. on a Friday.

When asked why the thieves would return the stolen art to Brand, the detective replied that it would be “too dangerous to involve the police”.

“These people know my reputation and that the most important thing is to give that back to the church. Hopefully it will last another thousand years,” Brand said.

Brand has an established reputation as a finder of stolen artwork and claims to have recovered more than 200 pieces over a career spanning three decades.

Mr Brand's recovered hundreds of stolen works, the most notable of which were two bronze sculptures known as Hitler's Horses

Mr Brand’s recovered hundreds of stolen works, the most notable of which were two bronze sculptures known as Hitler’s Horses

Lured into the art world while a student in southern Spain by gypsies in search of Roman coins, Brand’s day job is that of art historian and consultant. .

But his passion project is to recover stolen art and artifacts – trusted by police and criminals for access to the black market.

Most investigations are being undertaken at his own expense, he told the BBC in 2020, but have recovered works worth an estimated £250million.

Among them are a ring that once belonged to Oscar Wilde which was stolen from Magdalen College at Oxford University, Pablo Picasso painting Bust of a Woman which was abducted from a Saudi prince’s yacht in 1999, and Adolescence by Salvador Dali who robbed a Dutch museum the same year.

But perhaps his most stunning find was Hitler’s Horses – 16ft bronze statues by Nazi artist Josef Thorak that were placed outside the Reich Chancellery in 1939.

Thought to have been destroyed by the Red Army as they fought for control of Berlin in 1945, Brand discovered video evidence that proved it had indeed been suppressed before the Chancellery was destroyed.

Posing as a Texas businessman intent on buying the horses – which he based on JR Ewing from the TV show Dallas – Brand tracked down the horses for two years from 2014.

Along the way, he encountered characters straight out of detective fiction: a Dutch art criminal turned informant; a grand master of the ancient Order of Alexander the Great; and a former Stasi agent linked to former Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

At one point he even interviewed the daughter of Heinrich Himmler – Gudrun Burwitz – a prominent figure in a group that supported Nazi war criminals.

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