Police in the Argentinean city of Catamarca detained a suspect Wednesday who they believed may have stolen the incorrupt heart of Friar Mamerto Esquiu from an urn kept at the Convent of St. Francis in that city.
The suspect, 50 year-old Jeremias Cacini, was detained by police after he was identified by a volunteer at the convent, where the relic is venerated.
The volunteer said she saw Cacini running from the convent at around 6:30pm on Tuesday, minutes before it was discovered that the relic was missing.
Governor Eduardo Brizuela del Moral met with security and police officials to follow up on the case and to beef up security at the convent.
The administrator of the Church of St. Francis, Friar Jorge Martinez, said he did not believe the relic was stolen for money but rather that it was simply “the work of a fanatic.”
Friar Mamerto Esquiu was a zealous missionary who became a bishop in 1880. As a priest he gave renowned sermons in support of the Argentinean Constitution of 1853 calling for unity among all Argentineans. After the proclamation of his heroic virtues, a recent miracle attributed to his intercession could pave the way for his beatification.