Priceless church relics found — in the closet
Later search turns up crosses, rings believed stolen
By Tad Vezner
Article Last Updated: 07/02/2008 11:00:15 PM CDT
A set of historical crosses and rings believed to have been stolen last weekend from the home of Roman Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt has been found — in his bedroom closet.
The church accoutrements were reported missing early Saturday after a predawn break-in at Nienstedt's home in St. Paul. At the time, police and officials of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis believed that six bejeweled and irreplaceable crosses, which had been handed down from archbishop to archbishop for some 150 years since being brought to the United States from Ireland, had been taken.
A 75-pound safe was stolen from the residence after thieves broke in through the window of a second-story closet connected to Nienstedt's bedroom.
Church spokesman Dennis McGrath said church officials still are not sure what the safe contained.
The priceless crosses and rings were stored in a separate cardboard box, which a church official found Wednesday, McGrath said.
The Rev. Lee Piche, vicar general of the archdiocese, "had a hunch" while trying to figure out how the thieves could have carried both the safe and the box out of the house in what was likely a hurried burglary.
"He's thinking to himself, 'Wait a minute; how did they carry another box?' " said McGrath.
Even though the room had been searched, "(Piche) went back to that room and started digging around and found it," said police spokesman Pete Panos.
The box was found "way, way in the back of the closet, kind of hidden," Panos added.
"I suspect in the future, they'll be kept a little safer," McGrath added.
Still missing were four crosses and several rings that personally belonged to Nienstedt. He brought them with him from his previous assignment as bishop of the New Ulm Diocese.
"They're gone. They're not in that box," McGrath said.
At the time of the burglary, Nienstedt was on a trip to Rome to receive his pallium, a Roman Catholic Church garment signifying his office, from Pope Benedict XVI. He has since gone on to Germany and is expected to return next week.
I can't wait until dad gets home and the kids are no longer in charge.
By the way, this whole thing still smells rotten. Now I really want to know who's dirty laundry was hidden in that safe.