Crucifix missing from Bronx church back where it belongs

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NJ Burkett has more from Morrisania. (WABC)

A Roman Catholic parish in the Bronx is thankful because their crucifix is back where it belongs.

The 5-by-3 foot cross disappeared during mass at St. Anthony of Padua last Wednesday night.

"When I first come inside it's the first thing that I see in the church," said Jeremy Infante, a St. Anthony's parishioner.

It once was lost, but now it's found, a priceless, life-size wooden crucifix confiscated from an elderly homeless man.

Father Antonio Palacios of St. Anselm Roman Catholic Church says the man looked like he was walking the Stations of the Cross, with the crucifix over his shoulder.

Neighbors confronted the man, who agreed to trade the sacred icon for a much smaller crucifix.

"Everybody was very happy. But then the problem for us was to solve, who's the owner?" Father Palacios said.

What he did not know is that the crucifix had been pried-off the wall at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church about a mile away on East 166 Street, where parishioners were heartbroken.

"Some people don't have Jesus in their heart," said Monica Salazar, a St. Anthony's parishioner.

But Father Antonio says word travelled fast. They contacted the priests at St. Anthony's and arranged Monday night's processional to return the crucifix to its grateful congregation.

"Once it was in my hands, I was really very happy," Father Palacios said.

"How would you have the idea to do that you know? I don't know how you came up with that idea, let me steal this cross and just walk with it in the street while it's cold, why? It's just crazy, it's insane!" said Cassandra Valle, a St. Anthony's parishioner.

The person who took it has not been charged.

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