UPDATE, JUNE 17, 11:57 A.M.: Surveillance footage from a camera set up by a nearby business has led to the arrest of 41-year-old Maria Solis on the suspicion of grand theft and burglary, officials say. The video shows the Long Beach woman walking to St. Anthony Catholic Church early Monday morning.
Sgt. Rico Fernandez of the Long Beach Police Department says investigators found the missing relic in Solis' apartment, along with other church artifacts that may have been stolen from churches.
"It's really a big sense of relief," Fernandez says. "We have to credit the business owner and the community."
Hey, let's not forget St. Anthony of Padua himself, the patron saint of lost things. All in a days work.
ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 15, 3:37 P.M.: Long Beach Catholics are praying to St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost things, for the return of his relic, which has gone missing this week.
There's not enough irony in the world.
The 780-year-old relic was stolen on Monday from inside a cabinet beside the altar at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Long Beach. Police are looking for a woman who was "acting suspiciously" in the church the day before the theft, describing her as "a heavyset female Hispanic in her thirties, about 5' to 5'3", with dark, wavy, unkempt hair just past her shoulders."
Last on display about nine years ago, the 16-inch gold relic was brought out again this past weekend, the 780th anniversary of the death of St. Anthony, as a way to reinspire parishioners struggling in the rough economy. The patron saint is not only believed to be able to restore lost items, but also one's faith in God.
Anyone with information on the disappearance should call Long Beach Police Department Burglary Detective Lorri Peck at (562) 570-5590. Anonymous tips may be submitted at www.longbeach.gov/police.