THE theft from any place of worship is distressing.

The purloining of three hand-carved wooden plaques from Orkney's famous Italian Chapel, sometimes known as the Miracle Of Camp 60, almost beggars belief.

The Stations Of The Cross panels, part of a collection of 14 gifted by the chapel's creator Domenico Chiocchetti and his wife 50 years ago, have little intrinsic monetary worth but they are of great sentimental value to the people of Orkney and the 90,000 visitors the chapel receives every year.

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It was in 1943 that the chapel was built by Italian prisoners of war who were held in 13 huts on the uninhabited island of Lamb Holm. They were given two Nissen huts to turn into a place of worship and their remarkable efforts have been admired by many every since.

The chapel is open during daylight hours and there is not always a custodian on duty. In some places, that may seem careless. But in Orkney, in common with many other island and rural communities, there has not been a perceived need for round-the-clock security.

This theft is a betrayal of faith, trust and charity. Will the plaques be returned? We can only hope so.