This is not new. Especially in this part of the world. In fact, while I was in Cebu, these thievery of our precious religious relics has become common news. The Cardinal, alarmed had pleaded to parish priest’s to surrender their precious icons and other religious relics to Cebu cathedral’s safe keeping.
There are various reasons why these thieves steal such objects. Most sell them, others makes anting-anting (amulets) out of them.
Recently, a 12th century relic of San Antonio de Padua was stolen in California. The relic was usually secured but was placed out by the local priest so people can get closer look, hoping that this would renew their faith and uplift them in these tough economic times.
Hungry stomachs knows no law they say. True. It also fears no Godly retribution.
Aside from local burglars I have seen people online selling relics like some door to door producst. I don’t understand why people collect such items that would do more good when shown for the public to appreciate than keeping them in vaults and their private homes.
Now back here the Filipino Catholic hierarchy needs to take measures to secure its important religious items. It could be said that some local parishes are more vulnerable than others. In the Visayas I visited some churches that leaves its door open for the entire day without security. Some centuries old icons are out in the open waiting to be stolen.
While many, especially those that are not Catholics, consider these things unimportant to Philippine historiography it is. The grandest of all Filipino celebrations are feast offered to the Saints, their images in local churches has been the bridge between the old world and the new one.
Protecting these historical gems from thieves is a national obligation.