UPDATE from Subiaco Abbey Church after Desecration of Altar and Theft of Relics in Arkansas

 On January 5, 2023, the Logan County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call at the Subiaco Abbey church where it was reported that a person had entered the church and damaged the altar and stole two relic boxes that were embedded in the altar.  When the deputy sheriff arrived, Abbey officials told him a person entered the church at the Subiaco Abbey and took a hammer to the altar. 

The altar is a very large piece of marble that was imported from Italy and had two reliquaries (small brass-colored boxes) embedded in the altar.  Each relic box contained three relics from saints from over 1500 years ago.  Both boxes were missing.  The altar itself had a very large hole in the middle of the slab that went all of the way through the altar and the altar had large cracks and chips.  This is an act of desecration to the altar.  The suspect also messed with the tabernacle that is near the altar but did not damage it.

The deputy had arrived there soon after the call but the man had already left.  The deputy spoke with the witnesses, handed out statements, and took pictures of the damage.  After completing his investigation, the deputy left.  Soon after, the man came back to the Subiaco Abbey.  The Abbey officials called the Sheriff’s Office and the deputy and the patrol sergeant were close by.  They arrived and arrested Jerrid Farnam, 31, who is from the Subiaco area.  They found his vehicle on scene and there were tools in the truck that had marble dust on them.  One of the reliquary boxes was found in the truck and later returned to the Abbey.  The deputies also discovered that the suspect had entered a nearby vacant house and an item was missing from that house.  That item was found in the suspect’s truck.  The truck was seized and towed.

The suspect was transported to the Logan County Detention Center and is currently being held.  A bond has not been set yet.  At this point, his anticipated charges are theft of property, criminal mischief in the first degree, residential burglary, breaking or entering, and public intoxication.  Due to the nature of the destruction and the difficulty in estimating the cost of the items destroyed and stolen and that an altar was desecrated, the charges may change.  The investigation is continuing.

UPDATE: The other relic box and it’s contents have been recovered and returned to the Abbey so ALL of the property has been recovered.

The photograph included with this post was taken by the Abbey officials.

Source: Logan County Sheriff's Office, Arkansas

From the Abbey Website and Facebook Page:

A man was arrested Jan. 5 after he destroyed the marble top of the altar at St. Benedict Church at Subiaco Abbey, stealing two small brass reliquaries embedded in the altar. Abbot Elijah Owens, OSB, said a reliquary with relics of  Sts. Boniface, Tiberius and Benedict was found in the suspect’s truck, along with a hammer and sledgehammer “with marble dust still on them.” Several witnesses said they saw a “strange man” on the campus between 3-4 p.m. The man was previously seen at Sunday Masses Jan. 1. Abbot Owens wrote on the abbey’s website, countrymonks.org, “He had apparently then moved to the tabernacle, removed the cross on top, removed the tabernacle veil and then was interrupted. Thankfully, the Blessed Sacrament and the tabernacle were not damaged.” 

According to the abbey, “The sheriff reported that the man had wanted to break into the tabernacle but had looked up at the statue of Mary and decided he couldn’t do that to her.” The Logan County Sheriff’s Office was called and investigated, interviewing witnesses.

UPDATE: RELICS HAVE BEEN RECOVERED... DESECRATION OF OUR ALTAR AND THEFT OF RELICS: This afternoon a gentleman entered our Abbey Church of St. Benedict and severely damaged our altar. This damage included the theft of our relics in the mensa stones. The gentleman was later apprehended and arrested. Thankfully there was no loss of life and we were able to recover three of the six relics. Abbot Elijah and the monastic community will offer the "Public Prayer after the Desecration of a Church." Both of these reliquaries were sealed into the altar on March 31, 1959, when Bishop Albert L. Fletcher of the Diocese of Little Rock consecrated the altar and Church. The Sheriff reported that the man had wanted to break into the tabernacle but had looked up at the statue of Mary and decided he couldn't do that to her. Reliquary #1 contained the relics of the Martyr Saints Boniface and Tiberius, as well as St. Benedict. Reliquary #2 contained the relics of Martyr Saints Tiberius, Marcellus, and Justina. You can see the attestation letters, the reliquaries, and the relics in the photos provided, along with a photo of where they were located. The relics will be placed again in the high altar once repairs are completed.  UIOGD!