A man who stole an antique bible from a church in 1971 has sent it back to the facility with a note explaining his "guilty conscience."

Simon Scott, treasurer of Holy Trinity Church in Hastings, England, said the church received a letter recently from a German man who explained he had taken the 200-year-old book from the church while he was taking an English language course at the facility, the BBC reported Monday.

"He found the course was very much below par, it fell very short of expectations, despite being quite expensive," Scott said. "Some of the lessons were held in the church premises and he said he saw these bibles just sitting there, unused he felt. And by some sort of compensation for this very poor, expensive course, he decided to take one and try and read it at home and improve his English that way."

"In fact, he said in the letter 'I never got round to doing it,'" Scott said.

The thief wrote his wife was "pretty angry" at him for taking the bible.

"Whenever I came across the bible I would have this guilty conscience about doing it," the man wrote. "I've never managed to pluck up the courage to come and hand it back personally.

"But now that I've retired, I've definitely decided to get on the right side of things."

Scott said he does not think the returned bible is worth much money.

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"These kind of bibles were kind of standard for well-to-do families in the old days," he said.

"They used to bring it out at meal times and read it to the children but these days of course, we don't do that sort of thing and so there are a number of them lying around in churches. We've got ours back."