This Bible always brought me a guilty conscience. I was too cowardly to hand it over personally. Now I am retired and I make a final impulse to clear my conscience. I deeply regret what I did and can only hope this Bible finds its rightful home again. —Anonymous letter
An anonymous man from Germany finally returned a 200-year-old Bible to the Holy Trinity Church in Hastings, England, after 42 years of a guilty conscience.
Earlier this month, a few days after he received an anonymous note about the theft, the Holy Trinity treasurer received a package that contained the leather-bound Bible.
"I hoped it was something to help fill our coffers," Simon Scott told his local newspaper, the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer. "But it turned out to be a 200-year-old Bible which was of little monetary value but came with a major story behind it."
In the letter, the German man explained that when he and his wife were newly married in 1971, they had registered for English lessons taught at the church in Hastings. As they attended the sessions, the couple was disappointed to find the course was unhelpful and would most likely not teach them anything.
"I saw some gorgeous Holy Bibles in a corner underneath a bench. It seemed they were no worth for the community or the church and I took one with me home. It was a compensation for the poor course. In my mind I wanted to read and study chapter by chapter to complete my English."
Despite the writer's intentions, he found he never did open the Bible much, his conscience bothering him every time he looked at it.
"Back home I felt my action was not correct," the man stated in the letter. "Even more, my wife was very angry and tried to persuade me to return the book. This Bible always brought me a guilty conscience. I was too cowardly to hand it over personally.
"Now I am retired and I make a final impulse to clear my conscience. I deeply regret what I did and can only hope this Bible finds its rightful home again."
Scott said he sent a note to the return address on the letter and was happy all ended well.
"I think he is a God-fearing chap and this was his attempt at a confession," Scott told the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer. "It must have weighed very heavily on his mind. I’m sure he will be able to rest a little easier in his bed now.”