Devout Christians were most upset this week when it emerged that vandals had stolen the statue of the Baby Jesus from the Nativity Crib outside the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Barronstrand Street. This was the first year that the crib was erected outside the Cathedral in the heart of the city centre and it attracted much favourable comment even from those not so religiously inclined.

Usually, the Infant Jesus would not be placed in the crib until Midnight Mass but such was the interest and favourable comment this year that Bishop William Lee consented to the statue being placed in the manger in the run up to Christmas Eve.

However, on Sunday night, the vandals struck and took away the Baby Jesus. “It was probably a drunken prank but those responsible don’t seem to realise how hurt and upset many people are,” said one of the volunteers at the crib where donations are being accepted for the Cathedral Renovation Fund.

“If somebody told the perpetrators that they had caused genuine upset to a lot of people they probably wouldn’t understand such is their indifference to people’s deep feelings,” said another volunteer.

However, most readers will probably concur with the passer-by who spoke to The Munster Express outside the Cathedral on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s only a mean-minded shower of lousers who would do such a thing,” he exclaimed. As we went to press on Tuesday night, Garda Sergeant Larry Langton of Ballybricken Station confirmed that the statue had been discovered in an apartment complex on the Park Road. The icon had been smashed into six or seven pieces and the remains were returned to Waterford City Council, added Sergeant Langton.