A man was arrested in Florida on Saturday on charges of simple battery, theft, and disruption of a religious assembly after he attempted to steal consecrated Hosts from a Catholic Mass, injuring the priest and a parishioner who attempted to stop him.
The 33-year-old John Samuel Ricci, from Canton, Connecticut, is being held on $2,000 bond in the Martin County Jail until his scheduled December 11 court appearance, The Register Citizen reports.
According to the Martin County Sheriff's Office, Ricci was cornered by fellow churchgoers when he grabbed a handful of wafers from the priest during church services on Saturday.
Ricci was the last in the communion line at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church during its Saturday morning Mass.
One parishioner reported that Ricci put a Host in his pocket. Asked to put the Host in his mouth, he refused and threw the Host on the floor.
"Everyone else was on their way back to the pews to kneel and pray," another parishioner, Carl Marszewski, 66, told the Register Citizen. "I was approaching my pew across the church from where he was when it happened. I ran over there to stop him from running out with the communion."
Ricci reportedly cursed at the parishioners who tried to stop him, pushing down Marszewski and the 83-year-old priest Father James Malgano.
"It took six people to hold him down," Marszewski said, reporting that he and the priest were injured in the incident, with Marszewski saying he suffered a heart attack as a result of the clash.
Ricci allegedly described himself as a member of the American Civil Liberties Union and stole the priest’s book used to say Mass two days before the Saturday incident.
"He was seen on a camera we have here stealing something else from the altar two days earlier," Marszewski told the Register Citizen. "There are so many reasons why he could have done this, especially with the issues of all of these different cults and covens that actually want to desecrate the offering to their god — the god of darkness."
"We have no idea what his motive was, but it was not ordinary," he continued. "The things he was saying were scary and he was very strong. We have been praying for him ever since. We are a peaceful and loving people."