A cross that former pope Benedict XVI used to wear on his chest has been stolen from a church in southern Germany where it was on display, police said Tuesday.
The pectoral cross was in a case in the wall of St. Oswald’s church in Traunstein, in the state of Bavaria, where the late Benedict spent his adolescent years.
A piece of religious history has been snatched from a small town church in southern Germany. Thieves have made off with a pectoral cross that belonged to former pope Benedict XVI, which was on display at St. Oswald’s church. The cross had a special emotional significance, having once belonged to the much-respected Benedict, who spent his teenage years in the very same church.
Thieves broke into the case and took the item, which the former pope had bequeathed to the parish, between 11:45 am (0945 GMT) and 5:00 pm (1500 GMT) on Monday.
The cross was kept in a display case in the wall of the church, which thieves broke into before snatching the valuable item.
“For the Catholic Church, the value of this sacred object cannot be quantified,” Bavarian police said in a statement.
The perpetrators, whose identities are unknown, also broke into a cash register of a magazine stand and stole the money inside, the police said.
They are appealing for witnesses who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously around the church on Monday.
In an announcement made by the Bavarian police, the stolen cross was described as an “irreplaceable” symbol that holds priceless value for the Catholic Church. The thieves did not stop at the stolen cross alone though, as they plundered a magazine stand’s cash register for good measure.
The police have called for anybody with information or who noticed anything suspicious around the time of the theft to come forward.
Benedict, who in 2013 became the first pontiff in six centuries to step down as head of the Catholic Church, died in December aged 95 after a long period of declining health.
Former pope Benedict XVI is highly respected in the Catholic Church. Benedict famously stepped down as head of the church in 2013, a first for the Catholic Church in hundreds of years. He passed away in December 2020, at the age of 95.
The theft has left the church and the religious community reeling, as the cross contained a piece of history for Benedict and his followers alike. The Catholic Church will mourn the passing of yet another significant artefact from their faith, and only time will tell if the cross ever reappears.