St. Michan's Church is home to a total of five crypts and is a very popular tourist location, attracting some 27,000 visitors annually, according to RTE.
According to officials of the Church of Ireland, the head of an 800-year-old mummified body, known as The Crusader, was stolen from a crypt below St. Michan's Church in Dublin.
"Not only have these individuals desecrated the sacred crypt but they have destroyed these historic mummies which have been preserved in St. Michan’s for hundreds of years," Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin said in a statement.
The Crusader mummy originally stood more than 2 meters tall and had to have its legs broken and folded to fit in the coffin.
"I would appeal to those responsible to examine their consciences and return the head of The Crusader to its rightful place," Martin pleaded.
Vandals broke into the crypt and damaged and desecrated a number of the mummified remains before decapitating and stealing the head of The Crusader mummy.
"They broke open that vault, it's a big heavy steel door, and broke open one of the coffins," Archdeacon of Dublin David Pierpoint told The Irish Times. "Parts of the contents of the coffin have been dragged out."
Pierpoint further noted that “the actions of these people are devastating and sacrilegious," adding that "the crypt will have to close so tourists will not be able to visit. It is very frustrating."
The church is home to a total of five crypts and is a very popular tourist location, attracting some 27,000 visitors annually, according to RTE.
In 2016, thieves also vandalized dozens of other mummies at the St. Michan’s Church, according to RTE. The church dates back to about 1095 and holds a large number of naturally mummified bodies in the crypts below the building.
"These are people who have been lying at rest for years and years and to have them desecrated in such a sacrilegious way is so distressing and disturbing. I can't put it in words, I'm quite disgusted," Pierpoint recounted.
The current incident is being investigated by the Irish police.