A motor home robbery might have just inadvertently un-Earthed a century old holy relic blessed by Pope Leo XIII once thought to be lost forever.
Now how does this happen? Well apparently a 73-year-old Knoxville, TN man going by the name of Frosty received a painting as a gift some twenty years ago. Unbeknownst to him it was what is believed to be “The True Face Of Jesus Christ,” one of a handful of paintings based on the cloth used to wipe Jesus’ face before his crucifixion, known as the Veil of Veronica. He hung it up on his wall and there it sat for about three years until he moved into his current motor home.
For whatever reason the painting apparently didn’t really jive well with his new digs so he put it in a bank bag and stashed it in the closet for 17 years… which is exactly where Kelly Ghormley found it when she tried to rob ole Frosty.
Ghormley (whom you can draw your own conclusions about by looking at her picture at right) tried to turn around and sell the painting to Saint Joseph the Worker Church in Madisonville for three grand when church officials ratted her out. The Sherrif’s department showed up and arrested her effectively recovering the stolen painting.
The linen artwork features a wax seal stamped with the ring of the Pope. The stamp serves to authenticate that the painting was commissioned as part of a devotion attributed to the burial cloth that once touched the face of Christ. It’s been classified as what’s known as a third-class relic according to Catholic tradition. According to the article, “Third-class relics are frequently made of cloth and have touched first-class or second-class relics during a ceremonial devotion. First-class relics can include things like an item from the life of Jesus or the skeletal remains of a saint. Second-class relics can include items worn by a saint, such as an article of clothing or rosary.”
Ghormley is currently charged with felony theft of property worth over $60,000 even though it’s nearly impossible to put a price on such an artifact. As for the painting itself? “It is locked away in a very safe place where nobody can get to it,” Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens said. “We are just glad it could be recovered for the owner. Our investigators were really on the ball.”