Theft of Mary Queen of Scots’ Rosary – Immeasurable in Financial Terms…

Theft of Mary Queen of Scots’ Rosary – Immeasurable in Financial Terms…

From National Catholic Register…

Mary, Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart, carried the rosary beads to her execution at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire on Feb. 8, 1587.

Portrait of Mary Queen of Scots. (photo: Anonymous / Public Domain) 

Jan Graffius, the curator of the Stonyhurst Collections, made the comment after police reported that thieves broke into Arundel Castle in West Sussex, southern England, on May 21, stealing the rosary and other items worth more than $1.4 million.

“This is a very tragic loss for history, and specifically for Catholic history,” she told CNA. 

“I heartily wish that the stolen artifacts are speedily reunited with their rightful owner, whose family has faithfully cared for them over so many centuries.” 

Devastating news from Arundel Castle. The utterly priceless rosary of Mary Queen of Scots has been stolen. After her execution these personal effects were sent to the Duke of Norfolk, Britain’s leading Catholic, whose descendants have kept it, until now.

Mary, Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart, carried the rosary beads to her execution at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire on Feb. 8, 1587. 

Viewed as the legitimate sovereign by many English Catholics, she was effectively imprisoned by her cousin, Elizabeth I, for 18 years before her execution for alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate the Protestant monarch.  

Mary spent her final hours in prayer and her last words were “In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum” (“Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”) Her executioner failed to behead her on his first attempt, requiring three strikes of an ax before he succeeded.

A posthumous portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) in captivity. / Public domain. A posthumous portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) in captivity. / Public domain.

Sussex Police said May 23 that the castle’s staff became aware of intruders at 10:30 p.m. local time last Friday after a burglar alarm went off. 

Police officers arrived within minutes, but the thieves escaped with treasures including the rosary beads.

“The rosary is of little intrinsic value as metal, but as [a] piece of the Howard family history and the nation’s heritage it is irreplaceable,” Sussex Police said.

For more than 400 years, Arundel Castle has served as the seat of the Duke of Norfolk, historically regarded as England’s premier lay Catholic.

Thieves targeted a display cabinet along the route passed by members of the public visiting the castle. In addition to the rosary beads, they took several cups commemorating royal coronations, and other gold and silver items.

A spokesman for Arundel Castle’s trustees said: “The stolen items have significant monetary value, but as unique artifacts of the Duke of Norfolk’s collection have immeasurably greater and priceless historical importance.”

“We therefore urge anyone with information to come forward to the police to assist them in returning these treasures back where they belong.”

Police said they were examining a 4×4 vehicle found abandoned and ablaze in the nearby village of Barlavington to see if it was linked to the robbery.

Detective Constable Molly O’Malley, of Chichester CID (Criminal Investigation Department), said that the castle had only reopened to visitors on May 18 after closing during a nationwide coronavirus lockdown. 

O’Malley appealed to potential witnesses to report suspicious behavior in the days before the theft as well as anyone seeking to sell the stolen items.  

As the curator of the Stonyhurst Collections, Jan Graffius oversees a vast assembly of Catholic martyrs’ relics at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, northwest England.

“The real value of items like Mary Stuart’s rosary cannot be measured in financial terms,” she said.    Source…


The real value of ANY rosary cannot be measured in financial terms… Worth considering as the Month of Mary draws to a close…

Comments (15)

  • westminsterfly

    Hmm. Very sad that this has happened, but don’t think the police are interested. Local burglaries round here (not a million miles from Arundel) are routinely dealt with – no police attend and all you get is a crime number to give to the insurance company. If you’re lucky you might even get a perfunctory phone call from ‘victim support’ to see how you are coping with your ‘loss’. The police are far too busy ‘solving’ so-called ‘hate crimes’ like this one:- So while I abhor this theft, I have absolutely no confidence that the police will take it seriously. If some artifact had been stolen from a mosque you could bet your bottom dollar that police annual leave across the country would be suspended until the crime was solved.
    Oddly enough, I just sold some gold (take note, it was well prior to this reported theft) and I was amazed at how easy it was to do it, even with a reputable, long established company. I was never asked once where the gold came from and how it came into my ownership (it was inherited and unwanted). I hope it’s not so easy for the villains who stole these items.

    May 26, 2021 at 6:19 pm
    • Josephine

      Westminster Fly,

      You made me LOL at your story about selling your own gold. That is really funny, but also worrying, as you say, that even a reputable company wouldn’t do some kind of check.

      May 26, 2021 at 6:22 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        Metal merchants are often very dodgy and unscrupulous. Stolen metals have made many of them very wealthy. Entire churches have been robbed of their metal. I vaguely remember reading about a church that had its entirety plumbing system stolen every last pipe.

        May 26, 2021 at 7:18 pm
    • Miles Immaculatae

      Let’s hope the Duke of Norfolk hires a private detective. As you say, the police are a lost cause when it comes to burglary. I personally think the judicial system in the UK is too lenient of burglars. People think it’s not too bad a crime because stuff is insured, but that’s not true for many people, and certainly not true for most poor people in this country who can’t afford insurance.

      May 26, 2021 at 7:21 pm
      • westminsterfly

        Burglary/theft isn’t just about financial loss, which, as you say, can be dealt with insurance. It’s also about violation of property, person, security and peace of mind. I know of one elderly widow who has had to have medical treatment for insomnia/anxiety due to a recent burglary. Sometimes there’s a higher price to pay – whether insured or not.

        May 26, 2021 at 7:42 pm
      • editor


        How true is that about the upset caused by burglary/theft – it really is NOT just about money. Whether insured or not it causes huge suffering due to various related issues – I know relatives of mine who were so traumatised at the thought that they could have walked into the living room during the break-in, and the fear of possibly being attacked, even murdered, that they moved away from the area altogether.

        The sheer nerve of these people to invade anyone’s privacy is bad enough, but – a castle? Goodness – that really takes some nerve. I do hope they are caught and punished and, of course, that precious (in every sense of the word) rosary, returned. It really IS a tragic loss to Catholic history, as the National Catholic Register headline claims.

        May 26, 2021 at 8:06 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        Yes that’s what I meant to say

        May 26, 2021 at 8:50 pm
    • editor


      You’ve hit the nail on the head with that link – report a “hate crime” and the police will be onto it in jig time. Disgraceful.

      May 26, 2021 at 8:02 pm
    • Faith of Our Fathers

      W.F. your spot on, but had some Thing been stolen from a Mosk then Sharia Law of course would have come into play. As far as the Polis are concerned if its real crime their not interested . Unless of course it happens to their house ,or in their Neighborhood. Of course Hate Crime is much, much more important. Also as regards it being A Rosary primary being stolen i dont think many in the Polis would actually know what that is.

      May 26, 2021 at 8:34 pm
  • Josephine

    I am wondering why that rosary was kept in England, instead of here in Scotland? That is terrible that it’s been stolen, of course, but why was it not put into a safe place in Scotland?

    May 26, 2021 at 6:21 pm
    • Miles Immaculatae

      Probably because many on the Scottish establishment were vociferous anti-Catholics, however, the owner of the castle, the Earl Marshall and Duke of Norfolk, is from a historically recusant family, and they have always been Catholic, going all the way back. So the rosary was probably given to his predecessor as it was thought to be in safe hands. I suppose people forgot it was in England. People remembered the stone of Scone and it was eventually returned Edinburgh, although it broke in two pieces during the journey.

      May 26, 2021 at 7:16 pm
    • editor


      I suspect it may be because there isn’t (to the best of my limited knowledge) a “senior Catholic” with ties to royalty, anywhere in Scotland. I don’t think the set of Braveheart counts 😀

      May 26, 2021 at 7:58 pm
  • Miles Immaculatae

    Does anyone know why MQS was not canonised? Apparently, Monsignor Ronald Knox wrote a biography of MQS but it is long out of print. Does anyone have a copy?

    This is a cultural crime perpetrated against the Catholics of Great Britain. A thief or thieves also stole the book of Kells, discarded the manuscript in a hedge, kept the cover of gold, and presumably removed the precious stones from it, and melted it, and sold it on. A horrendous crime.

    Let’s hope these thieving bandits get caught, and have the book thrown at them, followed by the bookshelf.

    May 26, 2021 at 7:12 pm
    • editor


      Love your closing line (and endorse it, fully. In the case of Mary Queen of Scots, I hope they throw the rosary at those same bandits) 😀

      I remember receiving emails from a man who was pursuing Mary’s Cause but I’ve not heard from him recently. If he’s reading this, he may come on to update us on the progress, if any.

      May 26, 2021 at 8:00 pm
  • Fidelis

    That’s amazing about MQS rosary being stolen. I hope it’s found, and if so, that it’s brought to Scotland where it should have been in the first place, IMHO.

    May 28, 2021 at 2:51 pm

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: