BRAINTREE -- One of the Archdiocese of Boston's most cherished relics that had been missing from its mother church for over a month has been returned to the archdiocese.
The relic of the True Cross, which had been housed in a reliquary in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston's South End, was turned into the Vermont State Police. Officials from the cathedral retrieved the relic on Aug. 15.
The relic, a splinter of wood believed to be from the cross on which Jesus was crucified, was to be placed in its original reliquary at a prayer service Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the cathedral.
"I think we're thankful it's been returned," said cathedral pastoral associate Bob Travers. "We want to get it back to where it was originally so people can venerate the cross and pause and reflect in prayer."
According to an incident report released by the Vermont State Police, the relic was recovered on Aug. 9 after they received a call about a domestic argument that ensued in a Royalton, Vt. trailer park over the relic involving Earl Frost, 34. Frost, a transient, who turned the relic over to Vermont State Police. Frost claimed he received it from another person in Rhode Island.
According to the incident report, Frost said he had wanted to give the relic directly to the cathedral instead of to law enforcement.
Because Vermont State Police did not have confirmation of the relic's authenticity at the time they received it from Frost, they did not have enough evidence to hold him for possession of stolen property. Once cathedral officials confirmed the relic's authenticity, the Vermont State Police determined they had enough evidence to arrest Frost.
On Aug. 17, Vermont State Police learned that Frost was filling a prescription at a Hanover, N.H. pharmacy. Frost was subsequently arrested by the Hanover Police Department. Vermont police later learned there was an unrelated warrant for his arrest in New Hampshire.
As of press time, Frost was being held on the New Hampshire warrant, but a warrant is still being sought in Vermont.
"We are grateful for the great work of the Boston Police Department in their search for the relic," a statement by Terrence Donilon, spokesman for the archdiocese, said.
"Their professional and diligent work made this effort successful. We also extend our appreciation to the Vermont State Police who assisted in the recovery effort," Donilon added.
When cathedral officials arrived at police barracks, they were asked to confirm the relic's authenticity and place a dollar value on the artifact for legal purposes. While cathedral officials estimated the relic's worth to be between $2,300 and $3,800, they also said the its value is "priceless" given the fact that the papal ring that stamped the wax seal on the rear of the relic's encasement was destroyed after the pope's death. That seal and the red cord that attaches to it, Travers said, verifies the authenticity of the relic.