Blog Post

Thief Caught Stealing Monstrance

The monstrance from St. Francis of Assisi Church and Friary in New York City (YouTube)

A surveillance camera in the back of a Catholic church in New York City caught a man brazenly stealing the monstrance off the altar. Thankfully, the Blessed Sacrament was not inside.

ChurchPOP is reporting on the video, captured by cameras at the back of the Church and Friary of St. Francis of Assisi and Shrine of St. Anthony located on 31st Street in New York City. The man is seen entering the church at 7:20 a.m. on January 2, checking the donation box, and then approaching the altar where he steals the monstrance.

From there, the thief took the monstrance onto the subway. It is unclear if he just left it behind on the train, but somehow a woman came into possession of it and put it into the subway’s lost-and-found.

A picture of the monstrance was pasted on Facebook which led to it being identified as the one stolen from the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.

The beautiful monstrance was easy to identify because of its unique qualities, such as the exquisite blue enamel on the wings of the angels that surround the luna.

Father Andrew Reitz, pastor of St. Francis, with stolen monstrance shortly after its return

“The recovery we owe in large part to the power of social media,” the parish posted on its website after the precious vessel was returned.

“The Diocese of Brooklyn posted about a monstrance that was found on the F Train in Brooklyn. Then Arrys Ortañez who saw our post about our stolen monstrance, posted a photo of the monstrance sitting in the MTA New York City Transit lost and found office. Because of these two posts, the monstrance was recovered safe and sound.”

After thanking everyone who expressed concern for the stolen monstrance, people were asked to “pray for the troubled person who walked out of the church with it and hope that he receives the help he needs. We believe that the monstrance was taken by someone who is in need of care and assistance.”

However, “ . . . [W]e must remember, that the monstrance itself is of insignificant value compared to what it holds. It is not in gold and jewels that the Lord remains with his people, but it is in humble bread and wine of the Eucharist that the Lord of Glory chooses to manifest Himself to and remain with his people.”

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