The Religion News Service (RNS) is reporting on the crime which took place last Friday at St. John Bosco church in Castelnuovo. The thief apparently entered the church under the guise of a visiting pilgrim and somehow managed to steal the glass case which houses the relic.
Just as soon as the crime was realized, police set up roadblocks throughout northern Italy in an attempt to catch the culprit. Authorities believe the thief intends to demand a ransom for the relic.
However, the local media is speculating that darker purposes are behind the theft, such as how the relic could be used in Satanic rituals that involve the desecration of Christian symbols.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin put out an urgent plea for the return of the relic.
“I invite whoever took it to give it back immediately, without any conditions so we can close this painful page and continue to honor the memory of Don Bosco worthily in his birthplace,” the Archbishop said in a statement.
He called the incident the kind of news “you never want to hear,” he said.
“It makes you think of the profound moral misery of someone who would steal a ‘sign’ that’s been left and conserved for the devotion and the faith of all.”
St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian religious order, is revered for devoting his life to serving underprivileged children. Born in Castelnuovo in 1815, he is also well-known for his vivid and prophetic dreams. He died in 1888 and was canonized in 1934.
This incident occurred at about the same time that a church in Rome was vandalized with graffiti calling for free abortion for all – “also for Mary” – a crime for which the culprit received a very public scolding on Facebook that has since gone viral.
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