(FOX NEWS) — A limestone box said to have once held the bones of the brother of Jesus was at the center of the most controversial forgery case in decades — and it was allegedly vandalized by the Israeli government before being returned to its owner.

Called the James ossuary, it is a small stone box with an inscription that reads, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”

That Jesus had a sibling at all is a controversial idea disputed by the Roman Catholic Church. If the box itself were authentic, it would be considered the first physical link to Jesus.

A three-judge panel of Israeli Supreme Court justices ordered the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) to return the box and several other artifacts to antiquities collector Oded Golan last month, after the agency spent 10 years accusing Golan of forging the items.

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