The Holy Grail has been an object of knightly and not so knightly quest for hundreds of years but did you know that an equally precious relic of Jesus Christ was preserved safely in Ireland for a thousand years? This was the Bachall Iosa, or the staff of Jesus, which was preserved in a richly ornamented shrine in Dublin’s Christ Church cathedral. Legend said it had been brought here by St Patrick and for a thousand years it was reverenced as the ‘chief relic’ of Ireland, respected by Gael, Viking and Norman alike. Unfortunately it did not survive the reforming zeal of Henry VIII, whose new archbishop of Dublin George Browne ordered the Bachall Iosa to be taken from the cathedral in 1538, laid on a pyre in Skinner’s Row and publicly burnt. While it must be admitted that it is highly unlikely that this really was the staff of jesus, it was certainly a genuinely old staff – possibly that of St Patrick – encased in what must have been a magnificent shrine from Ireland’s Golden Age. This gross act of vandalism by the reforming Archbishop robbed Ireland forever of one of its great treasures and national symbols.
Here is and image of Clonmacnoise crozier shrine to show what it may have looked like.