HONFLEUR, France (ChurchMilitant.com) - Ancient relics of St. Boniface were stolen from a Catholic Church in northern France, the theft falling hard on the heels of the devastating fire at the cathedral in Nantes just days ago.
The first-class relics of the eighth-century saint were stolen from St. Léonard Church in Honfleur in the Normandy region.
Small bones of the saint affixed onto reliquaries and exhibited under the altar of the Blessed Virgin inside the church were taken during the afternoon of July 15, it is reported.
Father Pascal Marie, a pastor of Notre-Dame de l'Estuaire in Honfleur, noticed the relics were missing as he made his customary evening rounds to close St. Léonard Church for the day.
"I am overwhelmed and very sad. We are making great efforts to restore shine to this church, which receives more and more visitors. I had the statue of St. Joseph installed there, candlesticks and this is what happens ... It's a real lack of respect," lamented Father Marie.
The stolen relics represent just the latest in a wave of attacks on Catholic churches throughout France, once deemed the eldest daughter of the Church.
The 15th-century Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Nantes was set afire July 18 with the blaze tearing through the edifice, which incinerated the last remaining pre-revolution pipe organ in France and shattered the original 16th-century stained-glass windows.
More than 100 firefighters rushed to save the 15th-century cathedral, after which it was discovered the fire was started in three separate locations.
It's been just three months over a year since Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was set afire, its iconic spire and roof collapsing into its historic edifice.
The fiery litany goes on with the historic church of Saint-Sulpice, also in Paris, set ablaze just a month before the attack on Notre-Dame.
The desecration of France's holy places is not limited to destruction by fire.
Human excrement was smeared on a crucifix and on the walls of the Notre-Dame-des-Enfants church in Nîmes and the church organ and stained glass windows were smashed at the Basilica of Saint-Denis where almost all of France's past monarchs are buried.
Attacks on Catholicism are not limited to France.
Over 50 attacks on Catholic statues, parishes and persons in North America have been recorded thus far in 2020.
Saint Boniface (c. 675–754), an English Benedictine monk, gave up a high clerical station to devote his life to converting pagan Germanic tribes toward Christianity. He has become known as the "apostle of the Germans."
In addition, he fought against interference of the laity in bishops' elections and the worldly lifestyles of the clergy.
The saint and many of his companions were martyred while he was preparing converts for confirmation.
In a letter to a fellow prelate he said, "Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course. Let us stand fast in what is right and prepare our souls for trial."
The apostle of the Germans added, "Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. Instead, let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ's flock."
A complaint has been filed with the local authorities in Honfleur regarding the theft of sacred relics, and an investigation is underway to find the perpetrator.