A group of 'Da Vinci Code' style treasure-hunters have been blamed for damaging a church while looking for clues to help them find the Holy Grail.
Stonework was chipped off in four areas inside St Luke's Church in Hodnet, Shropshire, in what appears to have been a bid to look behind a wall.
The Rev Charmian Beech said the church appeared on a Holy Grail website due to its beautiful stained glass window, which features a feminine looking St John, who some theorists claim could be Mary Magdalene.
The vandals did not break in or steal anything, and tidied up after the incident, which is believed to have happened on August 11.
Church leaders are now considering installing security cameras.
The vandals also appear to have climbed on to a window sill, slipped and grabbed an organ pipe, which was broken.
Mrs Beech yesterday said she did not know how much the repairs would cost.
She said: "We are horrified at the damage because someone has come into the church with a hammer and a chisel and caused some serious damage.
"There is a local legend associated with our church linking it with the Holy Grail and some historians believe the feminine-looking St John on our window could be Mary Magdalene.
"Normally we are delighted to receive so many interested visitors but we are now having to review our security measures and install a surveillance camera."
Mrs Beech said the incident had left her pondering further conspiracy theories.
She said: "It is very mysterious because it happened in the middle of the day last Friday. We had a lady in the church working on a flower arrangement and the bell ringers were in the church as well.
"We had two visitors from Italy, a father and his son, they were extremely interested in the Holy Grail stories related to the church.
"They were in the church at the right time and I would like to ask them some questions but they have gone back to Italy.
"I think they came over from the Vatican and were searching for a map or a grail or something."
She added: "There are several places where a hammer and chisel has gouged great big bits of the stone wall.
"Any deliberate damage to a holy place is a serious offence so we are really upset, but it could have been worse."
The church received a flood of interest following the release of the film Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks, this year.
On a website for grail searchers, it cites four passages from the Bible which are believed to be directions relating to the church which is located eight kilometres south-west of Market Drayton in North Shropshire.
The directions lead to a stained-glass window in the corner of the church which depicts the four gospel writers - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - and one of these figures (St John) is shown holding a chalice which was the final clue to the relic's location.
It is above the depiction of St John where the Marian Chalice - the legendary cup said to have been used by Mary Magdalene to collect Jesus's blood and a claimant to be the Holy Grail - may be hidden.
The information appears on the website of Graham Phillips, who has been described as an historical detective, a modern-day adventurer and a real-life Indiana Jones.
Graham has written numerous books on the Holy Grail, Merlin, King Arthur, Robin Hood and Alexander the Great.
In 1995 he made international headlines and created a storm in the Vatican that even involved the Pope himself, when his first solo book, The Search for the Grail, was released.
A police spokesman said: "We are appealing for any witnesses."