[box type=”info”]UPDATE: The cross has been returned to the chapel – read more here. [/box]
On Saturday, Aug. 3, the King’s College Chapel’s eighteenth-century altar cross was missing. Amy Gillis was as surprised as anyone at its disappearance.
“It’s not something you’re on high alert to keep an eye on,” Gillis said. “You don’t expect someone to just steal a cross from a church.”
Increased diligence was already being paid to the chapel due to another recent theft. On July 13, a hand carved donation box was ripped from the wall of the chapel, and its contents were stolen.
“The donation box made more sense, as it was nearer to the door, sad as that is,” said Gillis, shaking her head.
Karis Tees, a fourth- year King’s student and chapel warden, noticed the missing cross on Aug. 5.
“I thought that maybe it would just come back, things in the chapel usually do,” Tees laughed, tucking her hair behind her ear. “I know now I should have raised an alarm, but it could have easily just been out getting polished for all we knew.”
Two weeks after its disappearance Will Barton, the chapel’s sacristan, explained that they had realized “maybe the cross wasn’t going to just turn up.”
A press release was filed and the story caught on. Global News, CBC, The Chronicle Herald, and Metro all had something to say about the cross and its disappearance. Barton, who gave a few interviews was not thrilled with the personal attention but was “glad to know that people are interested about the school and its history.”
The cross had been taken once before as a frosh prank in the eighties, and was returned. “The approach then was that of a velvet glove and an iron fist, and it worked,” said Barton. “We’re hoping the same will happen again.”
Father Gary Thorne, the university’s chaplain, has offered a reward of $200 for its safe return, hoping there is no need to implement the iron fist.
A spokesperson from Halifax Regional Police who is investigating the incident explained that it is up to the complainant to decide how they wish to deal with the culprit. “Only if they wish for us to press charges, we will.”
The whole community wishes for its safe return. “We’re not worried about the punishment of the individual,” said Barton. “Just that it comes back.”
Moving forward, it isn’t likely the chapel will begin to be regularly locked up.
“As unfortunate as it is for all these things to be stolen, it’s not fair to have the chapel locked,” says Gillis. “It’s nice for people to be able to come in and worship when they want.”
“The Chapel is still open, and the space is still safe,” Barton assured. “We won’t be using this as a reason to reconsider that idea, but we are looking into getting a security camera.”