LONG BEACH (CBS) — Detectives have found a centuries-old relic stolen from a local church, and a woman is under arrest for the crime.
The prayers of the parishioners at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Long Beach have been answered. A 780-year-old relic of their patron saint is back where it belongs.
“It is a first-class relic and it is part of St. Anthony’s, so St. Anthony a little piece of bonus is here with us, and he’s back home,” said Reverend Jose Magana.
On Monday, the relic was stolen from a display case on the church’s altar, just a day after it had been put on exhibit for thousands of parishioners to see. But it was one woman who came to all five of the church’s masses who caught everyone’s attention.
“We saw her like once before perhaps but she’s not a member of our community. I mean, all are welcome at St. Anthony, but I do not know who she is. I still do not know,” said Magana.
That woman, now identified as 41-year-old Maria Solis. Detectives had been using a composite sketch of the suspect to work with, but on Thursday they came across surveillance footage from a nearby business. The tape shows Solis walking toward the church. The tape was shown to detectives who canvassed the area, and found Solis about a mile from the church.
“Upon further investigation, detectives located the relic inside her residence, and placed her under arrest,” said Long Beach Deputy Police Chief Robert Luna. “She is currently in police custody.”
Father Magana said the relic will be placed on display again soon, but for now it’s in safe-keeping.
“We don’t want to go into panic mode, but we also want to be more protective. So we are definitely gonna say no to displaying it again. But we are going to be displaying it again in a different manner,” he said.
St. Anthony’s is the first Catholic church to serve the people of Long Beach. It’s been open for 111 years, and the relic has been with the church all through that time.
St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost causes and missing objects, as well as travelers.