A crucifix from World War I is being returned to its home church in Doingt, France.
The crucifix was rescued from the remains of the church, which was destroyed during the Battle of the Somme — a battle that took over 300,000 lives, according to SWNS.
The northern France church was destroyed in 1916, and those who rescued the cross knew they needed to take it to a safe place.
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The British eventually transported the cross to the All Saints Church of Tinwell, Rutland, England — a 297-mile trip.
But now that the original church where the cross was found has been rebuilt, the cross will be returning home in June of this year.
A crucifix brought to England from a World War I battlefield is to be returned to its original home in France — more than a century later. (SWNS)
The Doingt church was rebuilt in 1925 — something the Tinwell community did not know about until 2018.
“I look forward to meeting our English friends to remember the past when their country defended France and freedom.”
The residents were shocked by the idea of returning the cross to its original home — saying they thought the village was destroyed and gone, former British churchwarden June Dodkin told SWNS.
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“We were open-mouthed,” she said.
“No one had ever thought of doing that,” she added of returning the cross.
Doingt and its church were almost completely destroyed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, which claimed more than 300,000 lives and wiped many settlements off the map. (SWNS)
After several months of writing to the mayor of Doingt, Dodkin and others from the community received a response, she noted.
“They said they would very much like their crucifix back, so we started to organize the trip,” she told SWNS.
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The trip has taken four years to put together.
It has required special permission from the chancellor of the Peterborough diocese to remove a Christ figure from a church, according to SWNS.
Hubert Boizard, a member of a local history group in Doingt, France, said he was shocked to receive the news of the British wanting to return the cross.
The church has since been rebuilt — and the cross will return home this June. (SWNS)
“I look forward to meeting our English friends to remember the past when their country defended France and freedom,” he told SWNS.
Upon digging into the history of the since rebuilt church, Boizard said he found a description of the original church from the founding priest, Father Carton.
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Boizard read the diary and shared some of the words from Father Carton, written after the church fell.
“The church of Doingt is down, except for the two side walls, the apse, the main alter,” he recalled from the diary’s pages.
“To get to the altar, I had to climb up a pile of rubble, made of whole beams, pieces of ceiling or vault, debris from the pulpit, bricks, slates,” Father Carton also wrote.
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The journey to northern France will take those transporting the cross eight days, as SWNS reported.
There will be a reception at the Doingt town hall, a handover ceremony and a church service to commemorate the special homecoming, the British news service also reported.