Wednesday, June 17, 2009
A bizarre and sad bit of news out of Canada:
A Catholic Church in Toronto is hoping for a miracle — that the thief who stole a saint's relic will have a change of heart and return the holy object.
The relic of St. Therese of Lisieux, patron saint of missions, is a small piece of her body — about the size of a quarter — which could have easily fit in the pocket of the thief.
Jane Fleming, spokeswoman for St. Michael's Catholic Church, said the thief may have pretended to be praying at the saint's shrine while he or she removed the relic's Plexiglas cover and stole it between services on Sunday.
"Because the church is open every day, all day, we have lots of people who come in and they kneel at the statue and say prayers," she said Wednesday. "Some will put their hand up to touch the statue at the same time, so you can't really see what they're doing."
"If someone took on that posture, we would never go over and ask them to move along," she added.
While the thief got away with the relic — estimated to be worth between $3,000 and $5,000 — he or she left behind the small, silver broach-like piece that had contained it.
The thief also didn't get the relic's Vatican-issued certificate of authenticity, which is kept in an office in the church, so Fleming doesn't know how the thief will be able to prove the relic's worth to prospective buyers.
"I don't think a pawnshop would understand what it is and want to buy it," she said. "It's not like taking a solid gold chalice."