‘The man had wanted to break into the tabernacle but had looked up at the statue of Mary and decided he couldn’t do that to her.’
From Arkansas Catholic:
A man was arrested Jan. 5 after he destroyed the marble top of the altar at St. Benedict Church at Subiaco Abbey, stealing two small brass reliquaries embedded in the altar.
Abbot Elijah Owens, OSB, said a reliquary with relics of Sts. Boniface, Tiberius and Benedict was found in the suspect’s truck, along with a hammer and sledgehammer “with marble dust still on them.”
Several witnesses said they saw a “strange man” on the campus between 3-4 p.m. The man was previously seen at Sunday Masses Jan. 1.
Abbot Owens wrote on the abbey’s website, countrymonks.org, “He had apparently then moved to the tabernacle, removed the cross on top, removed the tabernacle veil and then was interrupted. Thankfully, the Blessed Sacrament and the tabernacle were not damaged.”
According to the abbey, “The sheriff reported that the man had wanted to break into the tabernacle but had looked up at the statue of Mary and decided he couldn’t do that to her.”
The Logan County Sheriff’s Office was called and investigated, interviewing witnesses.
In a Jan. 6 press release, the sheriff said, “Each relic box contained three relics from saints from over 1,500 years ago. Both boxes were missing. The altar itself had a very large hole in the middle of the slab that went all of the way through the altar, and the altar had large cracks and chips. This is an act of desecration to the altar.”
The abbey reported about 24 hours after the theft that the other reliquary with relics of Sts. Tiberius, Marcellus and Justina was recovered.
From the abbey’s website:
Throughout this, our monks continued with our regularly communal prayers. Now that the gentleman has been caught and justice will proceed, may we also offer a prayer for him.
Due to the desecration of the altar, Abbot Elijah and the monastic community will undertake the “Public Prayer after the Desecration of a Church.” In accordance with the prescriptions, the altar of the church has been stripped bare and all customary signs of joy and gladness have been put away. Due to the extensive damage to the main altar, the monks will use a portable altar until necessary provisions are made for the repairs.