SUBIACO, Ark. – A man was taken into custody after a heavy marble altar was damaged and relics taken from a Logan County monastery.
A Subiaco Abbey representative said its altar was vandalized on Thursday by someone who “proceeded to desecrate our main altar.” A representative claimed the person broke a large hole through the altar’s marble surface and took religious artifacts.
Logan County Sheriff Jason Massey confirmed that 31-year-old Jerrid Farnam had been taken into custody for the acts.
An abbey spokesperson said two reliquaries — ornate containers for holding relics — were taken from the altar, each containing three 1,500-year-old relics. The thief had moved on to the chapel’s tabernacle, removing a cross on top of it and its veil, and was interrupted.
“Thankfully, the Blessed Sacrament and the Tabernacle were not damaged,” the abbey reported.
The Logan County Sheriff’s Office was called when the damage was discovered.
Investigators spoke with people at the Subiaco campus and learned of what the abbey called “a strange man,” later determined to be Farnam, who had been on campus earlier.
“We were fairly confident that we had seen him previously in our Church,” the abbey reported.
After deputies completed the investigation and left, Farnam returned to the abbey. Deputies were called and returned quickly, taking him into custody.
Deputies searched Farnam’s truck before impounding it and reportedly found one of the reliquaries with the relics inside it, along with tools with marble dust on them. Deputies also found an item in the truck which had been taken from a nearby vacant house, the department said.
Anticipated charges against Farnam are theft of property, criminal mischief in the first degree, residential burglary, breaking or entering, and public intoxication, the sheriff’s office said. Charges may change as the estimate of damages is calculated, the sheriff’s office stated. Fanam is currently held in the Logan County Detention Center with no bond set.
An abbey spokesperson said the monks would pray for Farnam.