Vandals destroy one of Britain’s most celebrated Christian pilgrimage sites

December 9, 2010 | by | 17 Comments

Callous vandals have destroyed one of the most celebrated Christian pilgrimage sites in Britain and chopped down a tree that can trace its roots back 2,000 years to the death of jesus.

Vandals destroy one Britain's most celebrated Christian pilgrimage sites

The Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury, Somerset, is claimed to have sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, who prepared the burial tomb for jesus after lifting him off the cross.

Thousands visit the site near Glastonbury Tor to pay homage and leave tokens of worship – but many were left in tears yesterday (thurs) after finding the tree cut to a stump.

The sacred tree is unique in that it blossoms twice a year – at Christmas and Easter – and sprigs taken from the thorn are sent to The Queen each year for the festive table.

Vandals had hacked off the branches of the iconic tree, leaving just part of the trunk remaining – and dumped the remains of its proud thorns on the ground.

Police believe religious fanatics may have deliberately targeted the holy site
– visited by thousands of pilgrims each year – overnight.

Locals wept openly at the foot of the historic tree, on the town’s Wearyall Hill opposite its world-famous Tor, yesterday 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.

Vandals destroy one Britain's most celebrated Christian pilgrimage sites

”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.”

Christian legend dictates that Jesus’s great uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, came to Britain after the crucifixion 2,000 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.

Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads felled the tree during the English Civil War, when Parliament 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.

Glastonbury Mayor John Coles rushed to the tree site yesterday (thurs) after he heard the news.

Devastated John, 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.”

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 on Wednesday (8/12) 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 confirmed they were investigating the felled tree today.

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Comments (17)

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  1. Ash says:

    Not just a lost to the people who believed in it, as well the damage that will be done to the tourism trade, and its the town that will feel it with a big lost to the trade. I’d say the towns coffers will be a lot less, some people are just mindless scum.

  2. Nospamplease says:

    When I read the headline, I was horrified, but then I realized… it’s a “magical tree” Forget which religion thinks it’s worth it to make a pilgrimage to …a tree, it’s just stupid. It’s a dead tree, and nothing more.

    • Guest says:

      AKA I”M a asshole fundamentalist. For those saying kick out christian let me just say your illustrating that it isn’t belief in god that causes holocausts and genocide it just horrible people like yourselves.

  3. razr says:

    Why are the houses built in a big hole?

  4. Durrg says:

    I am a fairly staunch Atheist, but I just don’t understand what attacking someone’s beliefs like this will accomplish. The tree has been there for hundreds of years guaranteed and could be ~2,000 years old, leave it be. It was amazing it had stood that long, revere it for its longevity rather than the religous connotations.

    Let people believe what they want to believe, stop trying to inject your beliefs into theirs; you’re just as bad as they are.

  5. KomplexKarb says:

    10 bucks says it was muslims.

    • kevpiet says:

      narhh! if it was muslims it would of been blown up! oh no! they only blow themselves up! why is it that the only human beings in history to explode are all muslims?!!

  6. Troll says:

    Hahahahahahahhahahahhahahahahhahaahahahahhahahahahah silly christians.

  7. Alyxuk says:

    I really really don’t care. All religious people should be kicked out of the country, leaving the sane minority. I look forward to reading the “Vandals burn down thousands of churches” headline.

  8. boult says:

    Like Durrg, I’m an atheist; but this contemptible destruction of a charming and harmless religious custom completely appals me. As do the callous and thugish responses of several previous commentators. Sometimes the human race disgusts me.
    No, make that “often”.

  9. Katie Horodecki says:

    i think whoever did this needs to get a life and stop being so stupid!!!

  10. Katie Horodecki says:

    people have different views on life so leave it be!! to be honest i dont believe in any religion as there is no truth but this tree sounds pretty cool!! so as i said who ever the tree cutter is grow up!!

  11. Mike says:

    Speaking as another atheist, this tree has no spiritual significance to me – other than to say that nature is worth treasuring in its own right. For that reason alone, the purposeless destruction of a tree, whatever its history. is wrong. But why do some misanthropic halfwits feel that atheism and tolerance for the religion of others are incompatible? People making pilgrimages to a tree hardly rolls back the enlightenment. And what evidence is there that Muslims did it – that’s just prejudice.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Say let’s just leave religion out of this all together. What I find amazing is that tree was so old. That in itself is amazing, to be able to see a tree that old. And that it had survived that long. What a shame that vandals should hack it down like this. Hope they find the culprits that did this.

  13. dave says:

    magic and religion aside, why would someone go onto someone elses land and prune their tree for them? i always want paying for pruning stuff! leave it alone it will come back in spring! whoever did it will get what they deserve!

  14. 11Tigeress11 says:

    The Standing People ( Trees ) Are Sacred In Their Own Right, It Seems as Though This Tree Has Become The Subject Of Atheists, Christians & Yeah “Blame It On The Muslim” ect. To Me I Am Sad For The Innocent Harmless Defenceless Weaponless TREE. Unlike Human-Unkindness It Has Harmed None, Why Was’nt It Fully Protected “As All Trees Should Be”, Afterall It Did Bring The Mighty Dollar Did It Not, It Did Grace The Table Of aristocracy, It Did Bring Comfort. I Feel For This Standing Person Who No Longer Stands. Blame & Shame & Threats Will Not Bring It Back, Thank It For Being & Be Grateful ~ Bless It For It Lived On This Earth. 11Tigeress11

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