Police are looking for a solid bronze tabernacle worth $15,000 stolen from a St. Paul church early Friday morning.

Surveillance video shows three young men rolling the 50-pound holy object on the sidewalk outside St. Pascal Baylon Catholic Church around 3:30 a.m.

“It would be impossible for one person to carry it very far,” said the Rev. Michael Byron, who assumes that the thieves have no concept of its value to the spiritual life of his congregation. “It’s really the single most sacred vessel we have in the church.”

The video quality is poor and officials did not recognize the men, who appeared to be in their late teens. They entered through a door that was accidentally left unlocked, Byron said.

The tabernacle is an item found in every Catholic church and is commonly large and ornate. It holds the Eucharist outside of mass.

St. Pascal, at White Bear Avenue and Conway Street just north of Interstate 94, has dealt with occasional petty thefts, mostly in the attached school building. But nothing this valuable has ever been taken, Byron said, adding that parishioners’ “hearts are broken.”

St. Paul police said the burglars probably took it for the value of the metal. They ask that anyone with information contact police.

Until the tabernacle is recovered or replaced, a much older, smaller version will be pulled from storage.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.