Snatched gem returned to church after nine months
By Kevin Duguid
A STOLEN ceremonial jewel depicting one of the Bible’s most historic moments has been miraculously returned after a nine month mystery.
The iconic amethyst stone, attached to a gold ring, was snatched during a raid on the home of the Church of Scotland’s moderator the Very Reverend John Christie just before Christmas.
All hope of seeing the gem ever again was all but gone.
But on Tuesday (September 27) a mystery letter was opened at the chuch’s head office in Edinburgh.
Church officials were left astonished when they found the anonymous mail contained the missing stone.
The gold ring to which it was attached was nowhere to be seen.
But the return of the jewel means the ring can be remade and given to Rev Christie’s successor, the Right Reverend David Arnott.
The stone has a majestic carving of the burning bush – a symbol widely used by the reformed church – which refers to Moses preparing to lead the Isrealites out of Egypt.
The scene is considered to be a turning point in the Old Testament.
Alongside the image is the motto in Latin stating: “Yet it was not consumed”.
Since the early 1900s the ring has been handed to moderators.
But it was taken from Rev Christie’s Helensburgh home during a callous robbery just before Christmas.
He said he was delighted at the stone’s return. “We had some hope in the days after the theft that it would be returned. Of course, over time that becomes less likely,” he said.
“It’s not something I’ve thought about every single day, but I was upset at the time and I was pleasantly surprised to find out about its return.”
Mr Christie awoke on December 24 to find his house had been burgled, with the thieves taking the ring along with personal items.
Police continue to treat it as a “live inquiry”.
Its theft meant Mr Arnott would have become the first moderator in generations not to be given the ring when he took over.
Despite his joy at the return, Mr Christie was at pains to emphasise the context of the crime, especially as his hometown was recently the scene of the murder of a father and two children in a house fire.
“When it was taken, around that time there was a lorry driver killed on the A9 and that put my upset into perspective.
“And now it has been returned, we have to remember that in Helensburgh we have had an even more tragic incident. It was only a stone and a piece of gold – that woman has lost three members of her family.”
Mr Christie added that he suspected the gold had been sold, and that when the stone arrived in someone’s hands they decided to “do the right thing” and return it to its owner.
Staff at the church’s office on Edinburgh’s George Street were stunned when the package arrived, simply addressed to the “moderator of the Church of Scotland”.
A spokesman for the organisation said: “It will have caused some surprise. I don’t think anyone was expecting that.”
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