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Police recover 780-year-old Catholic relic stolen from Long Beach church

June 16, 2011 |  7:02 pm

St Anthony relic A 780-year-old religious relic stolen from a Long Beach church has been recovered and a suspect has been arrested in the case, police said Thursday evening.

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

A Long Beach woman was arrested in connection with the theft, police said. Police declined to release additional details, saying that a news conference was scheduled for Thursday night.

Officials with the Los Angeles Archdiocese said the relic of St. Anthony -- a bone from his body -- 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 the relic is inside the reliquary, it's unclear if the burglar was aware of what it was. 

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.


Thief might not know value, symbolism of stolen Catholic relic, police say

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

Photo: Reliquary of St. Anthony Credit: Long Beach Police Department