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This pectoral cross of Archbishop John Ireland, who led area Catholics from 1884 to 1918, was also stolen.

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Bishop Grace's pectoral cross

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Tuesday: Archdiocese lists haul from break-in

  • Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE
  • Star Tribune
  • July 2, 2008 - 4:22 PM

Items taken in a weekend burglary of Archbishop John Nienstedt's residence in St. Paul are believed to include rings and crosses given to him by church leaders in his native Detroit and a pectoral cross worn by John Ireland, the first archbishop of St. Paul.

Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, provided the inventory Tuesday -- the same day police spokesman Peter Panos dismissed speculation that the burglary was the work of professionals or, worse yet, an inside job.

"Good," McGrath said of Panos' assessment.

Panos said detectives met with church officials Tuesday. As of early evening, he said, there had been no reports of arrests or of historic items surfacing at area pawnshops.

The break-in is believed to have occurred between 1:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. Saturday while Nienstedt was in Rome to receive from Pope Benedict a pallium, the vestment presented to all archbishops.

Four pallium pins, which are weighted and made of precious stones, McGrath said, are among the items missing following the burglary. The artwork on the pins, he said, is of lambs. The pallium pins, McGrath added, are Nienstedt's personal belongings.

Other personal items believed to have been stolen were gifts bestowed upon the archbishop by cardinals for whom he'd served in Detroit. They include rings and a silver cross that McGrath said was especially dear to him.

Nienstedt also was in possession of six pectoral crosses and four rings belonging to past leaders of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis -- all of which are missing.

On Monday, when news of the burglary broke, McGrath suggested it was the work of "pros," given that whoever was responsible had smashed through glass that was 3 to 4 inches thick, and the plan seemed well-executed.

Said Panos, "It's more than likely our regular, run-of-the-mill thief." Asked how police knew that, he replied: "Professional burglars -- the way they plan, they way they do their thing, it didn't look like that."

And as for the inside job, he said, "no, not at this point," adding he didn't believe detectives were even considering the possibility.

Anthony Lonetree • 651-298-1545

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