Man arrested for stealing 1,500-year-old church relics in Arkansas, monks say

    Man arrested for stealing 1,500-year-old church relics in Arkansas, monks say

    An Oklahoman man was arrested Thursday after he allegedly damaged the altar of a church in Arkansas to steal two boxes that contained relics from three saints that are more than 1,500 years old. Photo courtesy of Subiaco Abbey

    Jan. 7 (UPI) — An Oklahoma man was arrested Thursday after he allegedly damaged the altar of a church in Arkansas to steal two boxes that contained relics from three saints that are more than 1,500 years old.

    Jerrid Farnam, 31, has been booked into the Logan County Jail in Arkansas on five charges including theft of property, criminal mischief in the first degree, breaking or entering, residential burglary and public intoxication, jail records show. No bond has yet been set.

    Deputies with the Logan County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call that the Subiaco Abbey, a Benedictine monastery located in the town of Subiaco, was burglarized on Thursday, officials said in a statement.

    Abbey officials told investigators that Farnam took a hammer to the alter, which was made of marble imported from Italy and contained two brass reliquaries that held three relics each, between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. before fleeing the scene.

    A photograph provided by investigators shows a large hole in the marble slab, which officials with the sheriff’s office called an “act of desecration.”

    Farnam allegedly returned to the abbey later in the day and church leaders called authorities, who arrested him at the scene.

    “They found his vehicle on scene and there were tools in the truck that had marble dust on them,” officials said in the statement.

    “One of the reliquary boxes was found in the truck and later returned to the Abbey.”

    Investigators later discovered that Farnam had allegedly stolen an item from a vacant house nearby after finding the object, which was not described, in his truck along with one of the relic boxes. The other was later returned to the church.

    “By piecing together the testimony from multiple witnesses who had seen a strange man on campus earlier, we were fairly confident that we had seen him previously in our Church,” the abbey said in a statement.

    “Out of an abundance of caution, our Academy students were locked down while the investigation proceeded.”

    The abbey said that because of the damage to the altar, the monks will use a portable altar until it can be repaired.

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