No Masses, sacraments after theft in Pampanga church
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Christmas dawn Masses, weddings, baptisms and other Catholic sacraments at the 440-year-old San Guillermo Church in Bacolor town have been suspended, after its Santisimo Sacramento (Holy Eucharist) was stolen.
Fr. Manuel Sta. Maria also closed the church following what he described as its “desecration.”
The priest and his aides discovered the theft at 4:30 a.m., before the morning Mass on Saturday.
The item is enthroned at the Holy Eucharist Chapel, at the far right of the church’s museum. It is the repository of the Blessed Host, a thin white bread that represents the body of Christ.
The item was donated in 2007 and is worth $2,500 (P125,000), Sta. Maria said. It is gold-plated and stands 15 inches tall. No suspects have been identified yet.
Sacraments will be held instead at the San Vicente Chapel, which lost its bell to thieves in 2014.
Sta. Maria has called on the faithful to offer atonement through prayers, fasting and other forms of abstinence.
Only San Fernando Archbishop Florentino Lavarias can declare the resumption of sacrament at San Guillermo, one of the five oldest churches in Pampanga.
Lahar or volcanic sediments belched out by Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 eruptions buried San Guillermo.
In 2014, the images of Our Lady of Consolation and Child Christ were stolen on separate occasions from the St. James Church in Betis in Guagua, Pampanga.
The late Tom Joven of Bacolor recovered the antique items by buying them back from the thieves through a middleman, which he donated back to the church. —TONETTE OREJAS
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