‘Let him that stole steal no more . .’

The Very Reverand John Christie

The Very Reverand John Christie

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IT IS a stone which illustrates one of the Bible’s most important developments.

Now an iconic jewel has staged a miraculous act of its own, nine months after being stolen from the home of the Church of Scotland’s moderator.

The Very Reverend John Christie thought he had lost the ceremonial ring for good when his Helensburgh home was robbed just before Christmas.

However, yesterday evening, an anonymous letter was opened at the Kirk’s head office in Edinburgh containing the amethyst stone, but not the gold ring to which it was attached.

It means the ring, which has been handed to moderators since the early 1900s, can be remade and given to his successor, the Right Reverend David Arnott.

The ring has a majestic carving of the burning bush – a symbol widely used by the reformed church – which refers to Moses preparing to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, a turning point in the Old Testament.

Alongside the image is the motto in Latin stating: “Yet it was not consumed”.

Mr Christie was delighted at the stone’s return. He told the Evening News: “We had some hope in the days after the theft that it would be returned, and, of course, over time that becomes less likely.

“It’s not something I’ve thought about every single day, but I was upset at the time and I was pleasantly surprised to find out about its return.”

Mr Christie awoke on December 24 to find his house had been burgled, with the thieves taking the ring along with personal items.

Police continue to treat it as a “live inquiry”, and it meant Mr Arnott would have become the first moderator in generations not to be given the ring when he took over.

Despite his joy at the return, Mr Christie was at pains to emphasise the context of the crime, especially as his hometown was recently the scene of the murder of a father and two children in a house fire.

“When it was taken, around that time there was a lorry driver killed on the A9 and that put my upset into perspective.

“And now it has been returned, we have to remember that in Helensburgh we have had an even more tragic incident. It was only a stone and a piece of gold – that woman lost three members of her family.”

Mr Christie added that he suspected the gold had been sold, and that when the stone arrived in someone’s hands they decided to “do the right thing” and return it to its owner.

Staff at the Kirk’s office on George Street were stunned when the package arrived, simply addressed to the “moderator of the church of Scotland”.

A spokesman for the organisation said: “It will have caused some surprise, I don’t think anyone was expecting that.”

amorris@edinburghnews.com