A priest believes satanists are behind a theft which desecrated a church in Beechworth, Victoria, The Border Mail reports.
A tabernacle weighing about 75 kilograms, which contained a ciborium and eucharist, was stolen from St Joseph’s between October 1 and 3.
Police are continuing to investigate the incident and hope witnesses may have seen something and be able to report it.
Fr Peter-John Neivandt said the gold ciborium – a cup used for communion – was of particular importance. He believes it may have been taken to perform satanic worship.
It was brought to the area by the priest who oversaw construction of the Church Street building in 1852. The item may date back as early as the 1700s.
Fr Neivandt said the last few weeks had been “absolutely awful”.
“They took the blessed tabernacle, they ripped it out of the main altar and absconded,” he said. “According to police, it looks like they’ve jemmied it out with screwdrivers or a jemmy bar. It’s been hell for the last three weeks.”
Despite the thief’s actions, Fr Neivandt did not condemn them. “They certainly have problems. We just need to keep praying for them.”
A spare tabernacle has been bought in from Bendigo and Fr Neivandt hopes a cabinet maker can install it. The church had to be closed until it could be reconsecrated.
“Something like this is pretty devastating for the community and the church here in Beechworth,” Fr Neivandt said. “We tend to think it was something to do with satanic worship. That’s purely guesswork from our point of view.”
None of the stolen items, which are worth thousands of dollars but considered priceless, have been recovered. Fr Neivandt has been forced to install security devices inside the building, which is always open during the day.
He believes it’s only the third time such an incident has occurred in the church in Australia.
Beechworth priest says he believes theft is linked to satanists (The Border Mail)