Church’s Lost Crucifix Rescued From WWI Battlefield Finally Returned After 107 Years
A church destroyed in France during The Somme has regained its holy crucifix lost in the battle.
Plucked from the mud in 1916 by a British reverend, it was brought back to Britain and has proudly sat on the altar of All Saints Church in Tinwell since 1936.
The crucifix will is due for a return to its rightful home this June after some All Saint’s parishioners discovered the church in Doingt-Flamicourt had been rebuilt only a few years after the war’s end.
A group of ten churchgoers will set out on a pilgrimage to reunite the crucifix with the church on a 297-mile trip to the village in northern France in what will be the 107th year since the battle.
Doingt and its church were almost completely destroyed during the Battle of the Somme. The village and its church were rebuilt following the armistice and the crucifix is seen as a precious link between its devastation and restoration.
“A village once destroyed is rebuilt; where there was trauma and death in 1917, today there is life and community,” said Reverend Olwen Woolcock from Tinwell. “The crucifix is like the last piece of the jigsaw in that restoration.”
The crucifix, which is in the French style with a shortened top with a gilded metal figure of Christ, was later used as a replacement for a small altar cross at All Saints.
Tinwell resident Katharine McDevitt formed the plan to reunite the lost relic back with its French village after she learned in 2018 that Doingt Church was rebuilt in 1925.
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“I wrote a letter to the mayor of Doingt-Flamincourt and asked Katharine to translate it into French,” said Rev. Woolcock. “After several months we sent another letter and this time got a response from the deputy mayor who put me in touch with a member of their historical society.”
“They said they would very much like their crucifix back so we started to organize the trip.”
The trip has taken four years to arrange and required special dispensation from the Chancellor of the Peterborough Diocese to remove the figure of Christ on the cross from the church.
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“When we received the email, I was very surprised and moved,” said Hubert Boizard, a member of the local history group, Mémoire de Doingt-Flamicourt. “I look forward to meeting our English friends to remember the past when their country defended France and freedom.”
“The region is sensitive to the fate of all the young British soldiers who died on our soil. The return of the crucifix symbolizes the friendship between our two nations…”
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