Worshippers at the small chapel at the University of King's College in Halifax are reeling after one of their most sacred items has disappeared.
It's been weeks since the altar cross was taken, and now they're doing everything they can to find the piece of history.
When the University of King's College relocated from Windsor to Halifax nearly 100 years ago, it moved two pieces of the old chapel with them: the altar and the cross.
But now the cross has disappeared. The university estimates it went missing sometime around August 3, but they can’t pinpoint the exact date. The small chapel is usually left unlocked for the community to use.
Graduate Will Barton says it was a brazen theft.
“Really kind of amazed that someone would feel comfortable enough, be able to justify themselves coming in and stealing a cross off an altar in a church,” he says.
The cross is made of brass and has been a part of the chapel since the 1800s. But this is not the first time it’s disappeared. It once vanished from the altar in the 1980s thanks to a group of Dalhousie University students playing a prank. It was hoped that was the case this time, but it's looking less and less likely.
For Father Gary Thorne, this is personal. He came to pray in the chapel every night when he was a student.
“It seems to me, if I would speculate, it was taken by someone who is desperate,” he says. “I spent many, many hours, many, many nights just having the light reflecting off the cross be a help for my own meditation.”
'I've not seen a cross like it anywhere'
The students who spend time in the chapel are doing what they can. Signs have been put up around the university and they have called pawn shops as far away as Quebec.
Father Thorne says it’s easy to identify with a unique design.
"Irreplaceable, because I've not seen a cross like that anywhere.”
Barton hopes it hasn’t already been destroyed.
“This is where it belongs,” he says. “Not melted down or cut up or sold to someone else or used for other strange activities.”
Halifax Regional Police are investigating, but Father Thorne says if the cross is returned to the chapel, they won't press charges.