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Relics stolen from small town Missouri Catholic Church

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 13th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The saints' relics are small in size but have an abiding personal worth for the parishioners at Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. Nine of the relics have been stolen, and authorities are at loss as they hold little monetary value and would be hard to sell without their paperwork.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A small river town settled by French colonists in the mid-18th century, Ste. Genevieve is a close-knit community. Who stole the items, as well as why has everyone mystified here.

"We are kind of at a loss," police Sgt. Steven Poole told CNN Saturday.

The burglary occurred sometime between Christmas Eve and January 4. The dollar-coin-sized containers holding the nine relics were found empty the following day. Those containers are displayed in larger vessels, called reliquaries, which sit on two side altars.

According to the Rev. Dennis Schmidt, for many worshipers, saints help them get closer to Jesus Christ. He says that the thief or thieves may have thought the relics, along with any small amount of gold or other metal with them might make the job worthwhile.

He seriously doubts the person who took the items, which can include portions of a saint's body or pieces of garment, for religious reasons.

"If they had taken one ... I can see that, but to take nine of them, it doesn't seem practical," he said.

"This will probably be something that will turn up somewhere once they realize there's no real street value," Police Chief Eric Bennett told CNN.

The church has about two dozen relics, one of which belonged to Ste. Genevieve and was placed around the neck of her statue inside the church. The relic of the patron saint of Paris is now in a different, secure location.

The relics have been part of the Ste. Genevieve parish since the thirties. The pastor at that time brought them back from several trips he made to Rome and elsewhere in Europe.

"Some people are really upset ... (asking) why somebody would do this," Schmidt said of the theft.

Searches of area pawnshops have turned up nothing. "We are hoping we can get help from the community, by word of mouth or at the church or (someone who) saw something."
The church is popular with tourists visiting the largely Catholic town, an hour south of St. Louis. The parish was founded by Jesuits who came from Quebec. The town of about 4,400 is on the west bank of the Mississippi River.

The faithful are now praying for the return of the historic and spiritual items.

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