TORONTO — A Canadian tourist who admitted to stealing fragments from the ancient city of Pompeii has returned the artifacts, blaming them for “years of bad luck.”
According to Italian newspaper Il Messagero, the Canadian woman, identified only as Nicole, sent a package containing two white mosaic tiles, two pieces of an amphora vase and a piece of ceramic wall to a travel agent in Pompeii in southern Italy.
The packaged included a letter in which she confessed to stealing the artifacts and asked for forgiveness.
Nicole wrote in the letter that she had stolen the artifacts when she visited Pompeii in 2005. She says she was 21-years-old at the time and wanted to have a piece of history “that no one could have.”
“I was young and stupid,” Nicole wrote. “I took a piece of history that has crystallized over time and that has a lot of negative energy in it. People have died in such a horrible way and I have taken pieces related to that land of destruction.”
Nicole, now 36, blamed the theft for her past 15 years of bad luck including having breast cancer twice, resulting in a double mastectomy, and her family’s financial struggles.
“We are good people and I don’t want to pass this curse on to my family or children. For this forgive me for the gesture made years ago, I learned my lesson,” Nicole wrote.
“I just want to shake off the curse that has fallen on me and my family. Please accept these artifacts so that you do the right thing for the mistake I made. I am so sorry, one day I will return to your beautiful country to apologize in person.”
The once flourishing city of Pompeii was buried in volcanic ash after the eruption of the Mount Vesuvius in AD79. The city remained buried until the 16th century when it was rediscovered.
Nicole’s package also contained another letter from two of her friends, Alastain and Kimberly, along with some stones they had stolen from the site in 2005.
“We took them without thinking of the pain and suffering that these poor souls they felt during the eruption of Vesuvius and the terrible death they had,” the Canadian couple wrote.
“We are sorry and please forgive us for making this terrible choice. May their souls rest in peace.”
The Pompeii Archeological Park confirmed in an email to CTVNews.ca on Monday that the artifacts had been returned to the site.
The park said it has been receiving letters for several years from visitors who have stolen small objects, such as mosaic tiles, pieces of plaster and lapilli, from the city and later decided to return them, claiming the artifacts caused a series of misfortunes.
While these small objects have little value, the Pompeii Archeological Park said they are “part of a unique archaeological heritage.”
Pompeii is one of Italy’s most visited attractions and for years has had to deal with the problem of tourists stealing from it.
The Pompeii Archeological Park said there are about a hundred letters from all over the world with returned artifacts that have been put on display at the Pompeii Antiquarium and around the park.
“Although the value of the finds is not significant, the letters accompanying the restitution, which evidently continues over time, are of particular interest from an anthropological point of view,” the park said in an email.
Pompeii is one of the world’s most famous historical sites, and experts continue to work to uncover its remains.
Last year, archeologists uncovered a “sorcerer’s treasure trove” of amulets, gems, and charms in the remains of a wooden box that had decomposed so much that only the bronze hinges were preserved under the volcanic material that coated it.