Criminals desecrate Brooklyn Catholic church, steal relic worth $2 mil

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


In what church leaders are calling a “brazen crime of disrespect and hate,” burglars desecrated a Brooklyn, New York Roman Catholic house of worship and made off with its most valuable and sacred possession. 

No arrests have been made so far after perpetrators targeted the St. Augustine Catholic Church in Brooklyn’s Park Slope Friday. The thieves cut through protective metal casing to steal an 18-karat gold tabernacle that housed the Eucharist. The work of art was crafted in the late 1800s and is worth an estimated $2 million. 

“This holy sacramental receptacle is irreplaceable due to its historical and artistic value,” the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn said in a statement.

Father Frank Tumini, the pastor of St. Augustine, discovered the crime Saturday.

“This is devastating, as the Tabernacle is the central focus of our church outside of worship, holding the Body of Christ, the Eucharist, which is delivered to the sick and homebound,” he said. “To know that a burglar entered the most sacred space of our beautiful Church and took great pains to cut into a security system is a heinous act of disrespect,” he added.

Theft did not appear to be the burglars’ only motive. In a shocking display of contempt, the criminals decapitated two statues of angels situated on either side of the altar and scattered the Eucharist elements. The sacristy, where clergy members prepare for mass, was also raided. A safe inside was cut open; however, it did not contain anything of importance. 

The brazen crime is among the latest in a spate of attacks targeting Catholic houses of worship, along with pregnancy help centers, following the leak of a draft Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this month. 

Anyone with information that might help the investigation or potentially identify those responsible is asked to call the New York Police Department at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).