Fox News reports:
Nearly 800-Year-Old Religious Relic Stolen From Calif. Church
LOS ANGELES -- A 780-year-old religious relic of St. Anthony of Padua has been stolen, and parishioners at a Southern California Catholic church are praying to the patron saint of lost causes and missing objects for its speedy return.
The relic was stolen from inside a cabinet beside the altar at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Long Beach on Monday, the feast day of the church's namesake.
The Rev. Jose Magana said he decided to bring out the relic this year, on the 780th anniversary of the death of St. Anthony, because many of his parishioners have lost hope in the rough economy.
Magana said the relic is invaluable and deeply symbolic to his parish.
"It's our history, so it's irreplaceable," Magana said. "It belongs to the church, not just the church here in Long Beach, but the entire Catholic church."
The church opened at 6 a.m., and when Magana turned to the relic during the 9 a.m. Mass, it had disappeared. Magana could hear his parishioners gasp when they realized it was gone, but he continued with the service and called police immediately afterward.
While church members are upset that someone would steal a holy object, their faith is still strong.
"They said, `Father, he's the patron saint of lost causes, so he'll come home,"' Magana said. (emphasis mine)
"People here are pretty upset but they're praying. They're praying to St. Anthony for the return of his own object."
So...notice the bolded sentence. Saint Anthony of Padua is the "patron saint of lost causes," or as Catholic.org puts it, "the finder of lost articles," and his relic is lost. Honestly, you couldn't make this stuff up!
Since I am largely unfamiliar with the details of the various Catholic "saints," I decided to do a little extra research on Saint Anthony of Padua. It turns out that this most "loved and admired saint" was also known as the "hammer of the Heretics." Purportedly, "His great protection against their lies and deceits in the matter of Christian doctrine was to utter, simply and innocently, the Holy Name of Mary (online source)." Interesting that it was Mary's name, not Christ's, that supposedly closed the mouths of anti-Catholic "heretics." I wonder why Anthony simply did not appeal to Scripture instead? Was not that the tactic of Jesus Himself when tempted by the devil? Is not the Word of God a "sharp, two-edged sword?" Yet nowhere does Scripture instruct us to utter the name of the person Mary as a means of confronting false doctrine.
While this story of the lost relic is admittedly funny, it also brings sadness. The mere fact that relics are still worshiped and venerated today is abominable. And the fact that this supposed "saint" desired more to "profess the Catholic Faith with his mind and his heart, at every moment (online source)" rather than the true Word of God is cause for grieving. Catholics today are still idolizing this mere man. They are even praying to him that his relic may be returned! Truly the Catholic Church is one of our greatest mission fields. Let us be in prayer for them and be willing to speak with boldness in confrontation of their false, damning gospel.
For resources and help witnessing to Catholics, please visit Mike Gendron's wonderful website, Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries.