Friday, December 10, 2010

2000-Year-Old Glastonbury Thorn Cut Down by Vandals



The Holy Thorn of Glastonbury - a site of pilgrimage for 2000 years - has been cut down by what may be anti-Christian vandals:
Standing proudly on the side of an English hill, its religious roots go back 2,000 years. But a single night of vandalism has left an ancient site of pilgrimage in splinters.

The Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury has been chopped down in what is being seen by some as a deliberately anti-Christian act.

A feature of the skyline surrounding the Somerset town, the tree has been visited by thousands retracing the steps said to have been taken by Joseph of Arimathea, who some say was Jesus’ great uncle

According to legend, Saint Joseph travelled to the spot after Christ was crucified, taking with him the Holy Grail of Arthurian folklore.

He is said to have stuck his wooden staff – which had belonged to Jesus – into the ground on Wearyall Hill before he went to sleep. When he awoke it had sprouted into a thorn tree, which became a natural shrine for Christians across Europe.

To add to its sacred status, the tree ‘miraculously’ flowered twice a year – once at Christmas and once at Easter. It survived for hundreds of years before it was chopped down by puritans in the Civil War, but secret cuttings of the original were taken and planted around the town.

It is from one of the new plants that a replacement tree was planted in the original spot over 50 years ago.

Yesterday residents of Glastonbury wept as they surveyed the damage done to the tree on Wednesday night. Katherine Gorbing, curator of the town’s abbey, said: ‘The mindless vandals who have hacked down this tree have struck at the heart of Christianity.

(Hat tip: Creative Minority Report)

My Comments:
For additional background on this holy tree, I recommend The Flowering Hawthorn by Hugh Ross Williamson (published by Neumann Press). See also the links below.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Joanna Bogle on Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury, Once England's Foremost Pilgrim Shrine, Today Linked to New Age (Vatican Radio)

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