Friday, 10 December 2010

Glastonbury Thorn Vandalised


Your Grace, regarding the vandalism, one report says that the tree remains may still be viable for branches. Let us pray that this holy relic of the first Christian ministry to Britain recovers fully, and that the vandals are caught posthaste. Wishing you a happy Advent season - Michael Marinacci.

We were alerted as soon as the discovery of this wanton act of vandalism had occurred. It is covered on some of our church pages found on Facebook and elsewhere, but I confess to having been put in a rather contemplative state by it all. The destruction of the living tree, as I see it, is entirely symbolic of the erosion in our land of spiritual values held precious for many centuries. This is symptomatic with the ever diminishing presence of Christianity, as darkness and all that dwells in the shadows spreads exponentially like a plague. We simply cannot continue as a country in a direction that takes us further away away from the Light without serious consequences to our cultural identity and destiny. It is spiritual suicide. This has come as a wake up call and is especially poignant for me. I ask for your prayers on behalf of the distressed inhabitants of this uniquely spiritual place.

The act was clearly premeditated and considerable trouble was taken to saw through the tree, as iron railings surround it. To my mind, this sacrilege was perpetrated by those who travel a darkly left-hand path.

I have been deeply moved by local expressions of distress, evinced in some by weeping around the stump of what is left after years of the tree being visited by pilgrims from all over the world. To them I say the tree will one day miraculously return to life; just as one day our Faith will reflower and spread again to every town and village throughout the British Isles.

Joseph of Arimathea came to Britain after the crucifixion two thousand years ago bearing the Holy Grail - the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper. He visited Glastonbury and thrust his staff into Wearyall Hill, just below the Tor, planting a seed for the original thorn tree. Roundheads felled the tree during the English Civil War, when forces led by Oliver Cromwell waged a vicious battle against the Crown.
However, locals salvaged the roots of the original tree, hiding it in secret locations around Glastonbury.
It was then replanted on the hill in 1951. Other cuttings were also grown and placed around the town - including its famous Glastonbury Abbey.

Experts had verified that the tree - known as the Crategus Monogyna Bi Flora - originated from the Middle East.

A sprig of holy thorns was taken from the Thorn tree by Glastonbury's St Johns Church last Wednesday and sent to the Queen.
The 100-year-old tradition will see the thorns sit on Her Majesty's dinner table on Christmas Day
Avon and Somerset Police have launched an investigation after locals found that vandals had hacked off the branches of the iconic tree. They were dumped next to the trunk which is protected by a metal cage.

Locals wept openly after the desecration had happened at the foot of the tree, on the town's Wearyall Hill opposite its world-famous Tor as they struggled to contain their emotion.

Katherine Gorbing, curator of Glastonbury Abbey, said: "The mindless vandals who have hacked down this tree have struck at the heart of Christianity. It holds a very special significance all over the world and thousands follow in the footsteps of Joseph Arimathea, coming especially to see it. It is the most significant of all the trees planted here and can be linked back to the origins of Christianity. When I arrived at the Abbey this morning you could look over to the hill and see it was not there. It's a great shock to everyone in Glastonbury - the landscape of the town has changed overnight."

Glastonbury Mayor John Coles rushed to the tree site after he heard the news.

Mr Coles, 66, said: "I'm stood on Wearyall Hill looking at a sad, sad, sight. The tree has been chopped down - someone has taken a saw to it. Some of the main trunk is there but the branches have been sawn away. I am absolutely lost for words - I just do not know why people would want to do this. This tree was visited by thousands of people each year and is one of the most important Christian sites. It is known all over the world."

Deputy Mayor William Knight, 63, added: "This is absolutely mindless. We are all devastated."

There is a full page photograph of the Glastonbury Thorn with the Tor in the background, taken soon after I became Bishop of Glastonbury, on page 33 of The Grail Church: Its Ancient Tradition and Renewed Flowering.