Vandals have destroyed one of the most celebrated Christian pilgrimage sites in Britain and chopped down a tree said to have sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea 2,000 years ago.
The Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury, Somerset, is visited by thousands every year to pay homage and leave tokens of worship. Those visiting today were moved to tears on finding the tree cut to a stump.
The sacred tree is unique in that it blossoms twice a year - at Christmas and Easter - and sprigs taken from the thorn are sent to The Queen each year for the festive table.
The Mail Online has some history
BROUGHT TO LIFE BY JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA, CHOPPED DOWN BY CROMWELL'S ROUNDHEADS, REBORN THANKS TO LOCALSVery very sad.
Christian legend dictates that Jesus's great uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, came to Britain after the crucifixion 2,000 years ago bearing the Holy Grail - the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper.
He visited Glastonbury and thrust his staff into Wearyall Hill, just below the Tor, planting a seed for the original thorn tree.
Roundheads felled the tree during the English Civil War, when forces led by Oliver Cromwell (pictured) waged a vicious battle against the Crown.
However, locals salvaged the roots of the original tree, hiding it in secret locations around Glastonbury.
It was then replanted on the hill in 1951. Other cuttings were also grown and placed around the town - including its famous Glastonbury Abbey.
Experts had verified that the tree - known as the Crategus Monogyna Bi Flora - originated from the Middle East.
A sprig of holy thorns was taken from the Thorn tree by Glastonbury's St Johns Church on Wednesday and sent to the Queen.
The 100-year-old tradition will see the thorns sit on Her Majesty's dinner table on Christmas Day