A man was arrested after allegedly using a sledgehammer to desecrate the altar at the Subiaco Abbey church in Arkansas.
The suspect, Jerrid Farnam, 31, allegedly entered the Benedictine monastery and an all-male school between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. on Thursday and is accused of using a sledgehammer to smash the church’s marble altar that contained two boxes that contained three relics belonging to saints from over 1,500 years ago, according to the Logan County Sherriff’s Office and Subiaco Abbey.
The accused (pictured) allegedly stole those relics and proceeded to meddle with the tabernacle by removing the cross on top and the veil. However, according to the sheriff, while Farnam intended to break into the tabernacle, he “looked up at the statue of Mary and decided he couldn’t do that to her,” Subiaco Abbey said in a statement on Facebook.
The monastery also noted that the Blessed Sacrament and the Tabernacle were not damaged.
The suspect left the premises before deputies arrived, but the school attached to the monastery was locked down out of caution.
Farnam then returned after deputies had left and spoke with a monk, who realized he was the likely suspect. Deputies quickly returned and arrested Farnam.
When deputies searched through the suspect’s truck, they found one of the reliquary boxes along with the sledgehammer and other tools. They also discovered that the suspect had allegedly burglarized a nearby vacant home and stolen an item from it, which was also found in the truck.
The other reliquary box was found later, and both boxes were returned to the monastery.
Farnam, who is from the Subiaco area, is currently detained at the Logan County Detention Center, where a bond has not been set yet. He is facing a list of potential charges, including theft, criminal mischief, burglary, breaking or entering, and public intoxication, and may face more, according to the sheriff’s office. The investigation is still ongoing.
The Subiaco Abbey says they will use a portable altar in the meantime until repairs are made. Throughout the whole ordeal, the abbey also noted that the monks continued their regular communal prayers.
“Now that the gentleman has been caught and justice will proceed, may we also offer a prayer for him,” Subiaco Abbey said.
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.