Taxiarchai Church in Watertown Robbed

Officials of the Taxiarchai Greek Orthodox Church of Watertown, Massachusetts discovered on Thursday morning, March 28, 2013 that the church had been robbed. A janitor found the church office in disarray early on Thursday morning and alerted officials to the break-in.

Lieutenant Michael Lawn of the Watertown Police Department, indicated that the thieves stole gold-plated Bibles, chalices, crosses, communion plates and an office safe containing cash. He speculated that the robbery was drug-related. Images of the stolen items were being circulated to news outlets and the public for help in locating the ecclesiastical artifacts. Robbers gained entrance through a basement boiler-room door on Elton Street sometime between 10:15pm Wednesday evening and 7am Thursday morning, by smashing a grate and glass in the lower portion of the door.

Photo by Charlie Breitrose/Watertown Patch

Taxiarchai Church pastor, Rev. Demetrios Tonias, revealed sadly that the value of the stolen altar items was very low due.  The gold-plating had worn thin--and in many cases was entirely missing--because of frequent handling of the items over many decades. Their value to devout parishioners, however, was immeasurable because of their significance during worship and their "value associated with the people who donated," according the the parish priest.

". . .Because all these items were donated, usually more often than not in memory of a loved one who passed away, and so they have their names inscribed on them. Those items often serve as reminders to young parishioners of their great-grandparents or other deceased relatives from decades ago," revealed Fr. Tonias.
“If you look at the Bibles and the chalices, they were taken for the gold,” said Lt. Lawn, “They were all inscribed with greek writing, they’re Gospels, Bibles, not the typical thing you walk into a pawn shop or a gold store with.”

Fr. Tonias says he doesn’t expect the thieves would get much money for the items so he’s hopeful they’ll have a change of heart and leave them somewhere safe so they can be returned to their rightful place.

“The prevalent feeling is sadness,” he said of parishioners. “We pray for everyone, even for the individual who did this, we would pray for them and whatever brought them to this. It’s sad for them as well. No one should be brought to this type of state to come to a place of worship and feel you have to take things.”

Source: Google images 30 March 2013

"Police believe the items were carried out of the back entrance onto Elton Avenue. There are surveillance cameras outside the church, but the thieves were apparently not caught on camera.

We believe it was carried to a car or a truck," Lawn said. "Anyone who saw anything suspicious overnight should call police."

Watertown Police can be contacted at 617-972-6500.

(Posting date 30 March 2013. Updated 2 April 2013.)

Photo of Taxiarchai reproduced with permission The Watertown Patch. HCS encourages readers to view other articles and releases in our permanent, extensive archives at the URL

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