by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com
NEW YORK – Investigators are still trying to piece together clues as to who stole the statue of the first Filipino Saint last week in Queens.
“Right now, there is nothing new with the investigation,” said Lieutenant John Grimpel of the New York Police Department to the Asian Journal. “We have [made] no arrests.”
Grimpel did not further discuss the status of the pending investigation. He said that detectives from the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit are still working on the case.
Thieves stole the bronze colored statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, a Filipino Catholic martyr and saint, on May 5. The fiberglass statue was chopped off at the ankles and stolen from the San Lorenzo Ruiz Spiritual Center in Jamaica Hill, Queens.
According to the Queens Courier, Councilman James Gennaro and other religious leaders considered the theft a hate crime during a press conference last week.
“There is no place in this or any other community for any kind of religious intolerance and hatred,” said Gennaro.
Nick Libromonte, the National Director of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Association of America, begged the thieves to return it.
It is assumed that thieves stole the statue thinking it was made of bronze – which sells for hundreds of dollars as scrap metal. However, the statue has no real monetary worth just spiritual value.
“It is very precious to us,” said Libromonte.
Rabbi Moshe Shur of the Queens College Hillel also attended the press conference denouncing the crime.
“We cannot tolerate this kind of behavior,” he said.
Born in the 1600’s, Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila’s path to sainthood began after he sought asylum in Japan in the mid-1630s. Upon landing, the Japanese arrested and persecuted Ruiz along with three Dominican Priests due to their Catholic faith.
The three were tortured and only Ruiz did not recant his faith.
Pope John Paul II beatified Lorenzo Ruiz during a visit to the Philippines in 1981. The Pope later elevated him to sainthood in 1987, becoming the first Filipino saint and martyr.