A statue of the baby Jesus is on display in the Nativity scene of a New Jersey church for the first time in nearly 90 years after it was stolen in the 1930s, according to news reports.
The statue was returned to Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church in Hoboken in March, WNBC reported Monday. It arrived in a package with no return address, so the Rev. Alexander Santora, pastor of the church, notified the police before opening it. After the police determined that it was safe to open the package, the statue and a note were found inside.
WCBS reported that the note said:
To Whom it may concern,
My Mom told me that the Baby Jesus had been stolen from the church Nativity display at Our Lady of Grace when she was a young girl of about twelve years of age in the early 1930’s. It came into her father’s possession somehow, and I don’t know why he didn’t return it. Instead, he gave it to my Mother after she was married, and she too kept it until her passing when it came to me. Knowing the story, I felt it should be returned to the rightful owner, and you will find it enclosed.
Instead of being displayed in a manger, the statue is on view in the box it was returned in, WABC reports.
“Since it came in what looks like a manger, and paper is like hay, it looks authentic to keep it in that way,” Santora said. “Because that’s how it was returned to us.”
One longtime parishioner, Ignatious Camporeale, said the return of the statue is a lesson in redemption.
“Absolutely, we forgive them,” Camporeale told WABC. “This is really something special that the baby Jesus comes back.”