A 37-year-old transient received a six-month jail sentence this week, followed by six months probation, after stealing a nun’s purse that contained a pix holding the Blessed Sacrament.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sr. Mary Morgan was returning from a Communion visit, when Toby Duran approached her for some money. When Duran was not satisfied with the $10 Sr. Morgan gave him, he ran off with her purse.
The 78-year-old nun of the Sisters of St. Joseph contacted police and told them that the Eucharist had been stolen along with her purse. The thief was found in the next two hours and, being informed that the Eucharist was inside, told officers where the purse could be found — under the siding outside the trailer that he, his wife and their infant call home.
The thief, who said he was Catholic, was reportedly brought to tears after being interrogated by the jail’s Security Chief, George David.
David emphasized the Catholic belief that the hosts are not merely a representation of God but are truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.
"He [Jesus] is out there in the dark, in the cold, in the mud," Chief David said, spurring the repentant Duran to confess the location of the purse, even though the confession incriminated him.
Sr. Morgan told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that she had already forgiven Duran for the crime saying, "I don't think this was premeditated. He did it out of extreme necessity,"
Duran pleaded guilty to the April 4 purse snatching. The assistant district attorney dropped simple assault and harassment charges.
Senior Beaver County Judge Robert C. Reed sentenced him to six months, one month more than the usual sentence. The judge also ordered Duran to pay $50 in restitution, even though Sr. Morgan told the district attorney she did not want the money back.
“I could tell he was repentant," she added. "I'm going to ask permission to visit him."