Saint John’s Abbey organ console. Martin Pasi did a project expanding the abbey organ beginning in 2019 and after coming to know the monks, came up with the idea of moving his organ-building operation there. / Photo courtesy of Saint John’s Abbe… […]
null / FlugKerl2|Wikipedia|CC BY-SA 3.0
Boston, Mass., Apr 24, 2023 / 12:51 pm (CNA).
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Boston, Mass., Feb 6, 2023 / 13:55 pm (CNA).
In early January, a man entered a Benedictine monastery in Arkansas and began smashing the altar with a sledgehammer.
He was about to begin breaking open the tabernacle where the consecrated bread is kept, but something stopped him in his tracks: a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Jerrid Farnam, 32, of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, was arrested for the crimes of property damage and theft committed at Subiaco Abbey in Subiaco, Arkansas, and is currently incarcerated awaiting trial.
Sheriff Jason Massey of the Logan County Sheriff’s Office told CNA that when they brought the suspect in he confessed to the crime. But, Farnam told the police, after he looked up and saw a statue of Mary, he couldn’t continue to break open the tabernacle as he had planned to do.
“He decided he just couldn’t do it,” Massey said. “I think he felt it was wrong at that point.”
RELICS FOUND AND RETURNED!: Through the swift investigation by Sheriff Jason W. Massey and the Logan County Sheriff’s…
Subiaco Abbey had reported that on Jan. 5, a man using “a regular hammer and sledgehammer/axe” began destroying the abbey’s marble altar by smashing it in different places. Founded in 1878, Subiaco is home to a community of 39 Benedictine monks.
The suspect left a gaping hole in the top of the altar and broke open stones that contain relics, the abbey said. Two reliquaries — small, brass-colored boxes that each contained three relics of saints from more than 1,500 years ago — were stolen, according to the Logan County Sheriff’s Office.
Father Elijah Owens, OSB, the abbot of the monastery, told CNA in January that the relics contained in one of the reliquaries were those of St. Boniface, St. Tiberius, and St. Benedict of Nursia.
The other reliquary contained the relics of St. Tiberius, St. Marcellus, and St. Justina, Owens said.
A video of the damage can be seen below.
The abbey said in its press release that the man approached the tabernacle and removed a cross located on top as well as the tabernacle’s veil before being “interrupted.”
Farnam was arrested the same day and three of the relics were found in his truck.
At the time, the reliquary containing the relics of St. Tiberius, St. Marcellus, and St. Justina was still missing. The sheriff’s office later discovered them in a trash can in Farnam’s father’s house.
Farnam gave the reliquary to his father, who, unaware of the nature of the objects, threw the contents of the container in the trash, while keeping the container for himself, the sheriff said.
“Luckily there was no food or anything on them. They were found in great condition,” he added.
Massey said that one of the seven offenses Farnam was charged with was theft of property, a Class B felony, which is the highest classification of a felony in the state, he said.
“You can’t put a price on those relics. They’re 1,500 years old,” he said.
Farnam thought that Jesus’ bones were in the altar and that God was telling him to remove the bones, Massey told CNA. He added that Farnam has a history of substance abuse and was intoxicated during his arrest.
The abbey is under repairs, and a portable altar will now be used until repairs are made, according to the abbey’s press release.
Father Oleksandr Repin among the church ruins / Benedictine Missionary Sisters
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Credit: oasisamuel/Shutterstock / null
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Sister Catherine Wybourne, also known as the "Digitalnun." / Benedictine Nuns Holy Trinity Monastery Facebook
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Cartago, Costa Rica, Nov 10, 2021 / 10:24 am (CNA).
The Diocese of Cartago has ordered the canonical closure of the San José Benedictine Monastery, a diocesan foundation that had functioned ad experimentum for some years.
“This decision of ecclesiastical closure is carried out as a result of an internal administrative process of the Church, which originated in a pastoral visit to the Monastery; this being done in accordance with the powers conferred by the Code of Canon Law, whose result and conclusions were endorsed by the Congregation for the Institutes of Religious Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in Rome,” the diocese stated Nov. 7.
Father Jorge David Arley Campos, press officer for the Diocese of Cartago, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency Nov. 9. that “as the assessment and investigation of the fruits of the experience is an internal process, the specific reasons” for the closure are not published, since “it was the decision of the commission in charge and the judicial vicar of the diocese.”
“The final decision was made known but not the reasons, since there are elements of secrecy in the matter and they cannot be exposed to public opinion due to the nature of the entrusted secret, in order not to damage the conscience of the faithful and to avoid incorrect interpretations by the faithful,” the priest said.
On its Facebook page, the monastery calls itself a “monastic community governed by the Rule of Saint Benedict, cloistered under our constitutions, and our main work is: prayer and manual labor.”
“We are a cloistered community, we do not do pastoral work outside the monastery. We do not belong to the Diocese of Cartago,” the Facebook page states.
The Nov. 7 diocesan communiqué says that “the members of this diocesan experience have been allowed and offered all our collaboration in their transfer to other experiences of community, if they see fit, awaiting word from them.”
The diocese said that while it has closed the monastery and thus ended its ecclesial mission, it is aware that the monastery was also established as a civil association enrolled in the Civil Registry and so “it belongs to them to determine its future as a civil association.”
From Nov. 7 “the Diocesan Experience of the San José Benedictine Monastery will not be part of the Diocese of Cartago, likewise there will be no authorization for the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals in the place of that experience.”
Fr. Arley Campos explained to ACI Prensa that as a civil association the monastery is “a legal entity under which they were legally protected as a group.”
“As an association it’s up to them to determine their future, but they are no longer canonically a movement of the Catholic Church,” the priest said.
An article published Nov.1 La Nación, a San José daily, says that “the Benedictine monks of the San José Monastery, in Paraíso de Cartago, charged that the current bishop of Cartago, Mario Enrique Quirós Quirós, has persecuted them for years to ‘eliminate’ their ‘presence ‘in the diocese and take from them their monastery grounds.”
The monastery was founded about eight years ago under Bishop José Francisco Ulloa Rojas. Bishop Quirós succeeded him in 2017.
In its Nov. 7 statement, the Diocese of Cartago doesn’t mention the article in La Nación, but noted that “the land and facilities where the campus of said experience have been located is the property of the indicated Association and has never been the subject of discussion.”
A response sent by the Diocese of Cartago to La Nación says that “the members of the San José Monastery, which was founded by the diocese, were informed of the conclusion of said experience, as a result of not obtaining the expected fruits during this time.”
The diocese further noted that members of the monastery “have been given the opportunity to exercise, pursuant to CIC c. 50, their right of reply.”
Canon 50 of the Code of Canon Law establishes that “before issuing a singular decree, an authority is to seek out the necessary information and proofs and, insofar as possible, to hear those whose rights can be injured.”
The press officer of the Diocese of Cartago explained to ACI Prensa that what happened in this case was the “closure of a diocesan foundation that was subject to evaluation and that could have become an autonomous monastery,” as they exist in other parts of the world.
Fr. Arley Campos said that the members of the group can stay on their property, “since the material goods they enjoy are theirs and their internal regulations, like those of any civil group, are those that govern their action.”
However, the priest clarified, “its mode of operation and what that entails is no longer covered by the Diocesan Church of Cartago.”
A Benedictine monk at the Barroux Abbey’s Via Caritatis winery. / Courtesy of Barroux Abbey.
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