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Thief might not know value, symbolism of 780-year-old Catholic relic she stole, police say

June 14, 2011 |  9:12 am

St. Anthony

Person of interestPolice said they are not sure if the person who stole a 780-year-old religious relic from a Long Beach church is aware of its historic and monetary value.

The theft was reported Monday morning at St. Anthony Church, near 6th Street and Olive Avenue, according to the Long Beach Police Department.

Officials with the Los Angeles Archdiocese said the relic of St. Anthony and the 16-inch case, or reliquary, that houses it, were taken from a church cabinet.

The relic is only brought out during special occasions, the last being in 2002 on the 100th anniversary of the church. Because it's inside the reliquary, it's unclear if the suspect knew what he or she was taking.

In Catholicism, St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost or missing things. The relic was stolen on the anniversary of St. Anthony's death 780 years ago, church officials said.

Long Beach police said the person of interest in this case is an unidentified heavyset Latina in her 30s, about 5 feet to 5 feet, 3 inches tall, with dark, wavy, unkempt hair. Witnesses told police she was acting suspiciously in the church the day before the theft.

RELATED:

780-year-old relic stolen from Catholic Church in Long Beach

-- Andrew Blankstein (Twitter: @anblanx) and Robert J. Lopez (Twitter: @LAJourno)

Photos: Cabinet holding the reliquary, top, and sketch of the person of interest in the case. Credit: Long Beach Police Department

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