Irreplaceable Relics Stolen From New York Church, Statues Destroyed

A New York City Catholic church was recently broken into, according to authorities.

The incident happened between 6:30 p.m. Thursday and 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church, known as the “Notre Dame” of Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, according to CBS New York.

“We all just thought that a sacred space would never be violated,” Rev. Frank Tumino, the church’s pastor, told the outlet. 

At the time, the church was closed for construction. One camera was destroyed, and the video from the other church’s security system were stolen, according to Tumino.

The church’s tabernacle — a box containing Holy Communion items dating back to the church’s opening in the 1890s — was taken. It made of 18-carat gold, decorated with jewels, and is valued at $2 million, police and the diocese said. 

The diocese said it is irreplaceable because of its historical and artistic value.

According to a guidebook posted on the church’s website, the tabernacle was built in 1895 and restored in 1952 and 2000. It’s described as a “masterpiece and one of the most expensive tabernacles in the country, guarded by its own security system,” which involves an “electronically operated burglar-proof safe” and one-inch thick steel plates that “completely enclose the tabernacle,” according to the outlet. 

The Diocese of Brooklyn called the incident “a brazen crime of disrespect and hate,” saying the metal protective casing protecting the tabernacle was torn through.

In addition to the stolen video and tabernacle, angel statues were decapitated and destroyed, and a safe in the sacristy — where priests prepare for Mass — was cut open but nothing was inside, the diocese said.

Holy Eucharist, bread consecrated as the body of Christ, was taken from the tabernacle and thrown on the altar.

“This is devastating, as the Tabernacle is the central focus of our church outside of worship, holding the Body of Christ, the Eucharist, which is delivered to the sick and homebound,” Rev. Tumino said. 

“To know that a burglar entered the most sacred space of our beautiful church and took great pains to cut into a security system is a heinous act of disrespect.”

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