Stolen Crucifix Returned To Bronx Church; Thief Forgiven

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A crucifix has been returned to its rightful place in a church in the Bronx, five days after it was stolen.

Police said the 5-foot tall, 3-foot wide crucifix was stolen from the lobby of Saint Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church on East 166th Street in Morrisania on Wednesday night.

The crucifix was stolen while church services were in progress, according to authorities.

As 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported, parishioners from nearby Saint Anselm Church placed the stolen crucifix back where it belonged Monday.

One parishioner could not hold back her tears.

“I’m very happy; very joyful, and thank God, you know,” she said.

The crucifix, worth $5,000, had been around as long as the church, since 1903.

Members of the congregation said the crucifix had appeared a little wobbly just days before it disappeared, leading them to believe whoever took it spent quite a bit of time loosening it from the base before stealing it.

The same night as the theft the crucifix was spotted by a Saint Anselm parishioner on the street, where a man was trying to sell it for $50.

Parishioner Henry Gomez approached the man in front of a liquor store on 152nd Street. He said the man smelled like liquor.

But rather than turning the man in to police, Gomez tried to make a deal. He took a cross out of his pocket.

Gomez said he told the man, “I’ll give you this one, a smaller one you can carry with you, and you give me the much, much larger crucifix.”

After the trade, Gomez brought the crucifix to the Rev. Antonio Palacios, pastor of Saint Anselm.

“It’s a very valuable cross,” Palacios said.

Palacios realized the crucifix had been taken from a neighboring church, and he and his parishioners brought it back.

“It makes us think – what is Christmas all about? And it’s about that gift from God,” Gomez said.

Richard Guadalupe of the church was proud to help bring the crucifix home.

“I’m full of goosebumps. It’s cold outside, and I’m hot; I’m sweating,” Guadalupe said. “It’s an amazing feeling. I’m blessed.”

Apparently, so was the alleged thief. Parishioners forgave him in the spirit of the season, and he was not arrested, Jones reported.

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