Belleville, Ont., police are investigating the theft of a holy artifact from a downtown Catholic church.
At the church of St. Michael the Archangel, though, they are hoping for the safe return of the holy sacrament contained inside the stolen gold-plated religious vessel.
“Right now we are in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel,” says Father Mark Ruckpaul, associate pastor for the Church of St. Michael the Archangel, “and you can see right up there (on the altar) … there is a monstrance which is holding the Blessed Sacrament.”
The monstrance on display on Wednesday is a spare vessel at the Catholic church on Church Street, placed there after the church’s oldest and largest monstrance was stolen Tuesday evening.
“Whoever it was, might have been hanging out in this building and just went into the chapel when no one was there and pulled out the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament in it,” says Ruckpaul.
The Blessed Sacrament refers to the actual body and blood of Christ in the Catholic faith — in the form of sacramental bread.
“For us it is a very sad thing that’s happened here,” says Ruckpaul. “We are praying … we are hoping we get the Blessed Sacrament back.”
According to Father Ruckpaul, there was no damage to the chapel that is open 24-hours a day for silent prayer.
Shortly after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, church officials were notified that the monstrance was missing from the adoration chapel.
“It has a value of $5,000 … so there is a significant monetary value,” says Staff Sgt. Mike Kiley with Belleville police. “And I think it (the Monstrance) has significant religious meaning to the church as well … something, I believe, they (the church) desperately want to have back.”
The 70-year-old stolen vessel stands about two-feet tall and is made of gold-plated brass.
There are twelve enamel medallions on its face, representing the 12 apostles. The large round top is described as a corona and in the center behind glass, the Blessed Sacrament is held.
“I think it is important to know that whoever did take this item, that it does have a lots of importance to a lot of people within our community,” says Kiley, “and if they feel in their hearts to return it, I think it will be greatly appreciated.”
“This is exactly where our main monstrance was situated at the time it was taken,” says Ruckpaul, standing at the front of the chapel.
The investigation continues and police ask if anyone has information on this very unique piece to contact them directly.
Anyone with information can call Const. Jordan Rhodes at (613) 966-0882 ext. 4223 or email him (email@example.com).
–With a file from Alexandra Mazur