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All Saints' Church, Tinwell crucifix.png
World News

England returns 107-year-old crucifix to France

by Premier Journalist

A crucifix retrieved from the rubble of a church during World War I has been returned to France after being kept in a church in the East Midlands for over 100 years.

It’s understood the crucifix was salvaged by Rev Percy Hoosonan, an army chaplain from a church in Doingt, an area that was completely destroyed during the Battle of Somme in 1916.

The chaplain later placed it in All Saints' Church in Tinwell, Rutland.

On Saturday, a group of from the church Rutland returned the artefact after a 16-year-old member of the congregation realised the church in Doingt had been rebuilt.  

Speaking to the BBC, his father, Chas McDevitt, said: “My son and my wife were discussing the fact we had an artefact from a French church, destroyed in the war.

"He looked online and saw it had been rebuilt and said, 'Why don't we take it back?' Suddenly we have a day like today and it feels like the right thing to do.

"It's so much more important for this community to have their cross back, it's a continuity of their history."

After receiving special permission from the Diocese of Peterborough, Rev Olwen Woolcock, priest-in-charge at Tinwell, formally handed the crucifix.

A special ceremony was held in the church’s cemetery to mark the return of the crucifix.

"It was powerful," McDevitt said.

"It was nice because every year I play the Last Post at Tinwell. So to be here and play it again is absolutely fabulous. It's deeply significant."

The church’s priest-in-charge, Jean-Louis Brunel, said the crucifix was "a sign of Christ giving his life for us, like the soldiers".

He continued: “This cross is a sign of people today and friendship with England. So we are very impressed with the idea of Tinwell parish to give back the cross," he said.

"I hope there will be friendships between the two communities for some time."

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