May their hands grow from the ground when they are dead

I found this:
Audacious theft at archbishop’s home nets Catholic treasures


June 30, 2008

An overnight burglary at the St. Paul residence of new Archbishop John Nienstedt netted the thief or thieves the gem- and precious-metal-laden rings and crosses worn by bishops throughout the 150-year-plus history of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, a church official said Monday.

"These things are historically and reverentially irreplaceable," said Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the archdiocese. "They’re beyond value."

Believed to be missing, as well, are rosaries and a small safe. "It’s like a historical treasure trove, if you will," McGrath said.

The burglary came on a weekend that was set to be a glorious one for Nienstedt, who was in Rome for a welcoming ceremony featuring Pope Benedict.

According to St. Paul police, the break-in occurred at the residence at 226 Summit Av. between 1:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. Saturday. Whoever broke in climbed onto a first-floor roof and broke into a second-story window, police spokesman Peter Panos said.

About a week earlier, Nienstedt had set out for Rome with a group of about 100 church officials and worshipers, many of them acquaintances from his years as the bishop of the New Ulm Diocese, McGrath said.

On Sunday, they were witnesses to a ceremony in which Nienstedt received from the pope a pallium — a garment presented to all archbishops. "It is an important event," McGrath said.

Along with Nienstedt’s "former faithful from New Ulm," the archbishop then was to embark for Ulm, Germany, on a trip that had been delayed by his selection to his new post, McGrath said.

Early Monday, Panos, the police spokesman, said that it appeared that the stolen items might consist of a camera and personal jewelry, "but they’re not sure," he added. But by afternoon, McGrath reported first the addition of the safe, then the rosaries and finally, after a church official reached Nienstedt overseas, the rings and pectoral crosses.

McGrath said there is no evidence that the burglary had political overtures against Nienstedt, whose orthodox style has been controversial with some Catholics in the archdiocese. The intruders were clearly bent on burglary, he said, adding that it appears that there were at least two people working in tandem and that they were familiar with the residence.

"These guys were pros," he said. "The glass they broke through is, like, three or four inches thick. They couldn’t get through without a sledgehammer. They executed a well-thought-out plan. They knew exactly where to go in his bedroom."

Panos said that police, too, believe that more than one person might be involved. The weight of the safe alone, he said, suggests that teamwork was required.

McGrath, who said he did not know if the stolen items were insured, said he couldn’t imagine someone wearing them. The crosses, for example, "are on a gold chain, very ornate," and drape over the chest, he said.

"I don’t think 50 Cent would wear it," he said, referring to the rap star.

Looking back, McGrath said he could not think of another such incident in the archdiocese’s history.

"It takes a lot of gall to rob an archbishop" across the street from the Cathedral of St. Paul, he said.





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  1. B. says:

    This seems to be the new fad, just last Sunday thieves stole a golden reliquary from the Cathedral of Essen.

  2. Cory says:

    Whenever I hear people stealing expensive things, I wonder, “what’s the point?” It’s not like they can go around wearing jewelery. For some odd reason, I think womenpriests are behind this. I sincerely hope Archbishop Nienstedt forgive these people and that they return the items stolen. It’s one thing to steal from the person, quite another to steal from the office.

  3. Matt Q says:

    Yes, Father, VILE, VILE, VILE!! Sounds like an inside job to me or at least an inside accomplice. How else would they know the stuff is stashed in the bedroom? How else would they know to come prepared to smash glass several inches thick? How would they know which window was which to be the right one to get in through?

    Cory, in answer to your question, it isn’t a matter of anyone else wearing the loot. It more than likely will re-fenced, or some black-market dealing, or worse, the stuff will be melted down into something else and the jewels reset into some other jewelry thus making it impossible ever again to know where they came from unless the Holy Spirit convicts their consciences and they rat themselves out. WE HOPE!!

  4. Cory says:

    Matt, hadn’t thought of that. Excuse me while I slap my forehead. What these thieves probably fail to realize is that not only did they steal from the person, but also from the office of the Bishop. Essentially, they stole from the Church. My memory is a bit hazy, but I’m reminded of a story of a person who stole the Blessed Sacrament in the middle of the night only to return it later because he felt somthing about the Sacrament. Maybe you or someone else is familiar with that story.

  5. Phil says:

    At times like these one would wish you could use the criminal code as it was when the stolen object were made, to prosecute the offenders.

    As for retrieving the items: I wouldnt be surprised if they were melted down already. Vile indeed.

  6. Tim Ferguson says:

    Some years ago theive stole an ornate chalice from the safe at the Church of St. John in St. Paul. The chalice had been given to Archbishop Ireland by Pope St. Pius X (IIRC), and was later presented to the then-pastor, Fr. Leo Dolan be a subsequent archbishop. Fr. Dolan regularly kept the chalice in a safety deposit box, but had it at the parish for the Christmas octave. When the cops found it, days later, the theives had cut it in half and attempted to melt it in a frying pan, only to find out that it was not solid gold, but only gold-plated tin. The chalice was unable to be repaired.

    I remember Fr. Dolan remarking to a group of seminarians that, as far as the chalice was concerned, even though it could not be repaired, he was worried less about its loss than he was about the souls of the men who stole it, and he asked us to pray for them. I suggest that these folks – whether their motivation was animus towards the Church or mere greed – are desperately in need of our prayers as well.

  7. Bailey Walker says:

    Satan is very, very angry and busy these days. These assaults, both within and without the Church, seem to be increasing and have the feel of a “last gasp” (one can only hope!).

    Father, forgive them. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle….

  8. josephus muris saliensis says:

    Several of the early pectoral crosses at St Paul may have contained relics. The theft of relics is a big thing in France and other parts of Europe. In many cases the reliquaries especially in post-revolutionary France) are of no artistic of material value, so one can only conclude that they are stolen for satanic rites and purposes. Within the last ten years, one of the two major caskets containing the relics of St Lazarus was stolen from the sacristy of Autun Cathedral (which was built in the XII century to house St Lazarus’ remains) and around the same time all the relics of Saint Philibert were stolen from his basilica, breaking into the shrine beneath the High Altar where they had rested since the XI Century. By satanists these holy objects are considered very powerful in black magic. Neither has been recovered, nor are they ever likely to be.

    Pray for these people, they know not what they do.

  9. Maureen says:

    With the price of gold so high, I don’t think we have to worry too much about explicit Satanic motives. But yes, these thieves and their sources of information need our prayers.

    St. Dismas, you were a thief and bandit during life, but had the decency to pity an innocent man and the inspiration to ask him to remember you in His Kingdom. Please intercede for these thieves, that they may realize the evil they have done, ask forgiveness and reconcile with the Church, and make reparation. And may they be freed from whatever has driven them to this deed, whether it be their own desperation, evil advice from false friends, or any other chain or cross — through Christ our Lord. Amen.

  10. Mary says:

    Ay yi yi! God shield the good Archbishop! I have a sort of feeling, which may be somewhat on the morbid side, that this is “proof” of the real threat he poses to the Enemy, even a few weeks into office. I will remember to pray for our Bishops.

  11. RichR says:

    May their hands grow from the ground when they are dead

    I am the world’s worst at phrases. What does this phrase mean?

  12. My Sicilian grandmother often told us that even the Mafia feared
    robbing God (from His Church) and robbing the dead (from the cemetery).

  13. toomey says:

    “McGrath said there is no evidence that the burglary had political overtures against Nienstedt, whose orthodox style has been controversial with some Catholics in the archdiocese.” Really? Only a matter of days after he cancelled a prayer service that celebrates the immoral lifestyle of homosexual behavior, Archbishop Nienstedt’s residence is burgled bigtime. The article says the burglars knew exactly where to go in his bedroom. Inside job? Perhaps. I have not yet seen an American archdiocese that has not employed liberals. And many liberals are sympathetic to the homosexual agenda. In Denver around 20 years ago we had something like this. Archbishop Stafford hasd cause to put forth the Church’s teaching on homosexual behavior. The press, of course, took the other side. But while being painted as an oppressed group, at the same time certain things were happening. People who went to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Denver were exiting only to find the windows of their cars smashed out. The Catholic cemetery had a beautiful 12 foot high marble statue of Christ crucified. Without going into details, it was horribly desecrated. Many gravestones were also desecrated. The SP/M police will likely look into a possible connection here.

  14. This was written on June 30th and mentioned it was an overnight robbery at SAINT PAUL residence. So was the place robbed the very day the Year of St. Paul began and at a place named after him? I suspect that, with a lot of prayer asking St. Paul to intercede, these robbers might have a change of heart and experience a conversion as St. Paul did. One can always hope…hope will help us cope.

  15. Supertradmom says:

    Do not underestimate the use of such things for satanist activities. Edina, Mn.,close to St. Paul, once held the record for the second most number of covens in the United States and a friend of mine, who was in the police department at the time, had to deal with vandalism surrounding satanist activities.

    Sadly, satanism is alive and well in the “Heartland”. When I was at Notre Dame as a student, many chalices were stolen from the Basilica, as well as an expensive carpet from the sanctuary. I hope these type of things are fenced, rather than used for truly evil purposes.

  16. CK says:

    “These things are historically and reverentially irreplaceable,” said Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the archdiocese. “They’re beyond value.”

    Aside from the obvious horrible sin, perhaps it’s time for a safety deposit box or an alarm system??

    Unfortunately now for decades sacred items removed from closed churches or tossed aside during “reckovations” have been in decorator showrooms, confessionals turned into home bars, baptismal fonts used as planters, icons displayed in homes of folks who practice yoga, and lots of stuff openly sold on ebay with not very much concern. So, as my grandmother said over and over during this time….”nothing is sacred anymore”.

  17. Saint Anthony, ora pro nobis.
    Saint Dismas, ora pro nobis.

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