$2 Million Tabernacle Stolen From Catholic Church, Statues Damaged

A historic tabernacle from the 1890’s was stolen from St. Augustine Catholic Church in the Diocese of Brooklyn, on Saturday, May 28, said Pastor Frank Tumino in a press release.

A Catholic tabernacle holds the communion hosts, the Eucharist, which the Catholic faith teaches is the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread.

“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,” Father Tumino stated. “To know that a burglar entered the most sacred space of our beautiful church… is a heinous act of disrespect.”  

The solid silver tabernacle is coated in 18-karat gold and covered in jewels. It isworth an estimated $2 million, and was described as “Brooklyn’s finest” in 1892 by the New York Times.

In 2013, then-Pastor Robert Whelan said it was “probably the most elaborate tabernacle in the country,” reported The Washington Post.


On Saturday morning, Father Tumino was on his way to St. Francis Xavier Parish to hear confessions when he discovered the door of St. Augustine’s was open and, on entering the church, found the tabernacle had been removed and was missing.

The communion hosts were scattered over the ground, a sight which made him sick to his stomach, he stated.

The tabernacle was forcibly removed from the altar, “forcefully cut open” with a power saw, according to The Post.

In a press release, the Diocese of Brooklyn said, “The burglar cut through a metal protective casing and made off with the Tabernacle, which dates back to when the church was built in the late 1800s. This holy sacramental receptacle is irreplaceable due to its historical and artistic value. The angels which flanked the Tabernacle were decapitated and destroyed, and the Holy Eucharist housed inside the Tabernacle was thrown all over the altar.”

Addressing whoever stole the tabernacle at a press conference, Fr. Tumino said, “I’d want to say, ‘You’ve taken away something that is so beautiful, that has given people beauty in the midst of the ugliness of their lives and times.”

He continued, “And that you know if there’s any chance that this would return to us, you know, it’s significant to us and that it’s sacred. So a sacred thing should not be sold. A sacred thing should not be melted down. A sacred thing should be really protected. And so that would be my greatest hope, that as it is sacred and has been used for over 100 years for sacred things, that it would return to sacred use.” 

Bishop Robert Brennan, head of the Diocese of Brooklyn, said he was “truly saddened by the news of sacrilege of the Most Blessed Sacrament which took place in one of our churches in the Diocese of Brooklyn.”

 The New York City Police Department is investigating this crime.


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