Monk Nabbed With Nun's Remains

Weirdest story of the day. Maybe even of the week. A monk was trying to board a flight when baggage checkers opened up his bags and found...

Reuters reports:
A Cypriot monk caught at a Greek airport with the skeletal remains of a nun in his baggage on the weekend told authorities he was taking the relics of a saint back to his monastery.

The 56-year-old Cypriot was detained at Athens airport on Sunday after security staff discovered a skull wrapped in cloth and skeletal remains in a sheet inside his baggage.

"They maintained it was a woman who was a saint," a Greek police official who declined to be named told Reuters on Tuesday, adding that the monk told authorities he was transferring her remains to a monastery in Cyprus.
The problem? She's not a saint.

The monk dug her up himself. The remains were those of a nun who had died a few years before. But I repeat she wasn't a saint. So the monk was charged with charges like theft that aren't that hard to live down but he was also charged with a crime that will likely be a job application killer in the future such as "desecrating the dead."

You want an awkward silence in any room you recount the time you got sent up river for desecrating a dead nun.

According to news reports, he was suspended from his monastic duties. I think that was probably a wise course of action. But you want to hear an odd little note to the story - desecrating the dead is only a misdemeanor in Greece. Who'd a thunk it?

So the moral of the story here is that when you're stealing dead nuns you don't want to fly. You rent a car or take a ferry but don't try to go through airport security. You could hitch hike. I mean, seriously, I think 79% of hitch hikers have human remains in their backpacks and they never get caught. Just sayin'.


  1. There may be a cultural aspect here too---

    When I was in Greece, I visited the cemetary in Athens. The custom there is to bury the body in the ground for a few years until the bones are picked clean, and then house the bones in the permenant (usually above ground) mausoleum.

    I assume this custom comes from a shortage of burial space?

    Anyway, it COULD be that the monk was just trying to transfer the bones to the final resting place, but avoid whatever taxes, paperwork, etc. would be involved by shipping them properly......

  2. Try not to think of this story the next time you read about Cardinal Dziwisz carefully saving a vial of John Paul II's blood taken in the hospital where the Pope was dying. The blood is about to be built into the altar of a church in Krakow as a precious relic.

  3. See this is the kind of story that I need to know more about... this doesn't sound like he was trying to do anything nefarious... or maybe he was? You just can't tell... so it really leaves me wanting to know, "the rest of the story."

  4. @Deirdre: makes sense.

    Any other suggestion e.g. necrophylia or cannibalism is absurd.

  5. Perhaps he believes she actually was or will one day actually be recognized as a saint, and was trying to claim or save the relics? It wouldn't be the first time a grass-roots canonization (so to speak) resulted in an actual canonization.

  6. More to the story: The Archbishop of Cyprus, who should know about such things, suspected "the work of charlatans with a financial interest". The monk was suspended from monastic duties for 3 months -- for being absent without leave.

  7. It is a good line for would-be criminals, though. A detective's next question would be why was she bludgeoned to death with a crowbar?, followed by why is she you're ex-wife?


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