Ancient book returned to Catholic Church in Scotland after police hunt

The 17th-century text went missing from the Archdiocese of Glasgow and was later spotted for sale online, sparking a European investigation.

Ancient book returned to Catholic Church in Scotland after police hunt Police Scotland
Officers from the Italian Carabinieri police force seized the book before it was returned to Scotland.

A 400-year-old book of religious sermons gifted to the Catholic church in Scotland has been returned following a probe by the national police forces of two European countries.

The 17th-century manuscript by Cardinal Bellerine was given to the Archdiocese of Glasgow in the early 1900s but went missing at an unknown point.

Dutch investigators found the book, which dates from 1605, for sale on a website in 2020 before it was purchased by a buyer in Italy.

The Carabinieri seized the item for violating canon law of “alienating property of the church” after the sale went through and later passed it on to the Scots College in Rome.

It has since been returned to Scotland after a verification process earlier this year.

Detective Sergeant Billy Telford, of Police Scotland’s Scottish heritage crime group, said: “This is a fantastic result for the church and for all the officers involved in the investigation.

“It was an extremely interesting case to work on, tracing the book back to its roots here in Scotland.

“We don’t know how it came to be for sale online, but it’s now back where it belongs with a fascinating story of its journey.”