Relics return to Poor Clares

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Monday, July 7, 2014


STA. RITA -- The second-class and first class relics of St. John Paul II and St. Clare of Assisi have been returned to the religious sisters of the Order of St. Clare after almost two months since they were stolen from the Poor Clare Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Balanga, Bataan.

Santa Rita police chief Michael Masangkay told Sun.Star Pampanga that the relics were part of the items recovered by the police from the sister-in-law of suspect Jeffrey Quintos who was arrested early last week for the theft of the ivory images of the Nuestra Senora dela Consolacion y Correa and Sto. Nino of Santiago Apostol Parish in Betis, Guagua. The ivory images have already been returned to the parish.

The follow-up operation of the Sta. Rita police led to the recovery of additional twelve images and an assortment of religious icon vestments. The two relics were part of the recovered items.

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Sister Rebecca Rosuelo formally claimed the two relics. She said that the two relics were stolen in June 9 of this year from their chapel in Bataan.

Mayor Yolanda Pineda facilitated the turn-over vowing a crack down on the operation of antique and religious art thieves here.

"We have instructed our local police to do all in their power to bring other accomplices of the suspect to face charges. We will not tolerate these kind of activities," Pineda said, adding that she was happy on the return of the two relics. Pineda said that they frequent the monastery in Bataan with her family.

"The thieves broke into the chapel and carted two of our three relics," Rosuelo said. The Poor Clare Monastery has acquired the relic of former Pope John Paul II in 2011, when the pope-turned saint was still Blessed John Paul II. The relic is an ex indumentis (a piece of cloth) from the late popes vestments. Pope Francis canonized John Paul II and John XXIII last April.

Masangkay said that since the canonization of John Paul II, the late pope's relics have been in-demand among collectors.

Also turned-over to the Order of St. Clare was the first class relic (a piece of the bone) of Saint Clare of Assisi. Saint Clare was an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition. The relic has been with the order since the 1950's.

Sister Rebecca said that the items will be brought to the monastery for further verification. She added that the relic of Saint John Paul II was placed in the reliquary of the relic of Saint Clare while the latter was still inside its theca (case) without the reliquary.

Masangkay also said that one of the twelve images, a Sto. Nino, was positively identified by parish officials and residents of Sasmuan as the missing image from their town. The image has been turned-over to the Sasmuan police for processing.

"We now have eleven images in our custody and an assortment of vestments. We are determined to trace them all back to their proper owners," Masangkay said.

Masangkay said that they also turned over a suspected antique crown allegedly belonging to the ivory Santo Nino image of Betis to the Guagua police. He added that they are also investigating suspect Quintos on the possible apprehension of suspects and customers of the suspected antique thief who is the suspect in the robbery of the two ivory images in Betis.

It could be remembered that on July 1, the Northern Caloocan police led by Police Superintendent Bernard Tambaoan turned over to the local police Quintos, 29, a resident of Barangay San Jose in Macabebe town, after the suspect was found in possession of the stolen Sto. Niño image.

The suspect was arrested along Bonifacio Monument Circle (Monumento) in Caloocan City in the act of selling the image.

The image, ivory head and two sets of detached hands and feet were turned over to the Guagua police.

Guagua town police chief Inspector Angelito Estaban told reporters that they were able to track down the location of the other missing image after interrogating the suspect.

The image was recovered from a remote area in Barangay San Basilio in Sta. Rita, a town near Guagua. Police recovered the ivory head and a set of ivory hands.

The two images were stolen from their altar inside the Santiago Apostol Church last June 30. The church was declared a national cultural treasure in 2013.

The image of the Child Jesus was first stolen during the Betis district's feast day last December 2013 but was returned to the church after it was bought by a certain Tom Joven.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 08, 2014.

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