Police Say Someone Stole $2 Million Gold Relic From Church, Beheaded Angel Statue

Screenshot/YouTube/Fox 5 New York

Mary Rooke Commentary and Analysis Writer
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St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood was robbed and vandalized sometime between Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon.

The Diocese of Brooklyn announced Sunday on Twitter that the New York Police Department was investigating “a brazen crime of disrespect and hate” in which a thief or thieves broke into the church and stole an over 100-year-old tabernacle. An angel statue was also beheaded, according to a tweet from the diocese’s account.

“The @BrooklynDiocese is announcing the #NYPD is investigating a brazen crime of disrespect and hate, which desecrated the most Holy Eucharist and altar at @StAugustineRC located in Park Slope,” the diocese tweeted. “The burglar cut through a metal protective casing and made off with the Tabernacle.”

The incident at the Brooklyn Catholic church happened between Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon while the church was closed for construction, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The church’s security system recordings of the incident were reportedly taken.

“I think we all just thought a sacred space would ever be violated like that,” the pastor of St. Augustine, Father Frank Tumino, told Fox 5 New York. “The tabernacle is the vessel that contains the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist, Jesus.”

Tumino discovered Saturday the tabernacle had been stolen, the Eucharist had been thrown on the altar, and the angel statue was beheaded, he told Fox 5. He said as he walked into the church, he could smell the metal shavings from the one-inch thick steel plates that secured the tabernacle in place.

The tabernacle was reportedly made for the church in 1895 of 18-carat gold and ornate jewels. Police said it is valued at $2 million, according to the AP.

Tumino said he hopes the tabernacle is returned because of its significance to the church.

“It is significant to us in that it is sacred. A sacred thing should not be cut up and sold. A sacred thing should not be melted down. A sacred thing should be really protected. And so that would be my greatest hope,” Tumino told Fox 5.