Back in July, someone stole a relic of the True Cross from the Boston Cathedral. It's been recovered. The story made it into the national news today:
"The Archdiocese of Boston declared Monday that the prayers of its faithful were answered after a relic of the True Cross that was stolen from the Cathedral of Holy Cross earlier this month was found in rural Vermont.I'd been puzzled at the motive for the theft. Sometimes relics are contained in high-value cases - but brass and glass with some old wax? I was a bit surprised at what the street value of this item might be:
" 'Our prayers have been answered as the Relic of the True Cross has been recovered,' the Archdiocese of Boston said in its statement. 'God has blessed us with His love and capacity to forgive. We prayerfully carry on His call for forgiveness for those responsible.'
"The splinter of wood from the cross, encapsulated in a brass and glass reliquary, was discovered missing on July 1...."
"...The relic contains a piece of wood inside a round brass case about 2 inches across, police said. The church believes the wood is from the cross on which Jesus was crucified. The back of the case has a seal stamped with the pope's ring....I suppose that dollar amount makes sense, viewing the case as a collector's item.
"...Church officials called the relic priceless but estimated its street value at $2,300 to $3,800.
"It was a gift in the 18th century to the Rev. Jean-Louis Lefebvre de Cheverus, who later became Boston's first bishop...."
It's Not About the MoneyParishioners in Boston weren't, I'm pretty sure, praying for the relic's return because their cathedral's net worth had been reduced by maybe three thousand bucks. Aside from the historical and sentimental value: that brass box had a sliver from the cross on which my Lord died.
That makes it a pretty big deal. Particularly considering what He did three days later. Which is another topic.
I've written about the Catholic Church, wealth, and why we bother to make God's houses look unshabby before. (February 4, 2010)
Forgiveness?! After What He Did?!Police are looking for a man who said he had the relic, and wanted to give it back. That may sound vindictive, or unfair: but I can see their point. He fled after handing the relic over, and is likely to be arrested for receiving stolen property.
I don't think he did himself any favors by running away. Still, I'm glad that he handed the relic back.
Police have the man's name - he returned the relic after law enforcement responded to a domestic disturbance. There's a little more detail in the Catholic News Agency article.
I take what the archbishop of Boston said at face value: " 'God has blessed us with His love and capacity to forgive. We prayerfully carry on His call for forgiveness for those responsible.' " Despite the impression that some individuals give, from time to time, Catholics are - or should be - taught to forgive others. Quite a bit of the Catechism is about forgiveness: "Article 10, 'I Believe in the Forgiveness of Sins,' " for starters. And there's the Matthew 7:1-2 thing.
Which isn't to say that I think whoever stole that relic should be given a pat on the back and let go. It's not vindictiveness - at least, I hope not. I don't think it helps anybody learn that behavior isn't appropriate, if there isn't a consequence to that behavior. Then there's correcting the wrong done to others - and to the sinner. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1459)
I've written this before: but things get complicated, fast, when human beings are involved.
Answered Prayer? Miracle?Was the return of that relic an answer to prayer? According to the archbishop: yes. That's good enough for me.
Was it a miracle? Depends on how you define "miracle." I've written about that before. (June 7, 2010)
My take is that I'm very glad that the relic has been found: and I wouldn't be surprised if God stacked the deck a bit to get the job done.
- "Sacred Relic Stolen: Prayer Requested"
(July 12, 2010)
- "Rosary, Land Mine, Miracles and Coincidence"
(August 2, 2010)
- "Miracles, Mass, Bread and Wine"
(June 7, 2010)
- "Saints: That's so Medieval"
(February 14, 2010)
- "Wealth, the Vatican, the White House, Corporate Headquarters, and Cultural Values"
(February 4, 2010)
- "Haiti's Enu Zizi? Ena Zizi: Any Way You Spell it, She's Quite a Lady"
(January 20, 2010)
- "Police recover relic stolen from Boston cathedral"
Catholic News Agency (August 16, 2010)
- "Religious relic stolen in Boston recovered in Vt."
The Associated Press (August 16, 2010)
A tip of the hat to newadvent, on Twitter, for the heads-up on this news.