SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Officials are searching for an ancient, religious artifact that was allegedly stolen from a Catholic church in San Francisco.
Church leaders are heartbroken and parishioners are praying for the safe return of a relic, which is a prized and sacred possession at Dominic's Catholic Church.
The relic is believed to be part of the cross where Christ was crucified.
Sunday mass at St. Dominic's Catholic Church is a time for prayer and reflection. But on Sunday, there was sad news for parishioners. "This past Thursday, the church was robbed of a very sacred item," St. Dominic's Catholic Church Father Michael Hurley said.
The church's most treasured relic believed to contain a fragment of the true cross was stolen from a display case. "The true cross is a relic that goes back 2,000 years to the very cross of Christ himself. For it to be stolen in this kind of very deliberate way is certainly both upsetting and very saddening," Hurley said.
Hurley showed ABC7 News how a thief or thieves popped out a lock on the case and made off with a relic, leaving behind the red waxed papal seal from the 1700's. "It's just devastating," church member Suzanne Avila said.
Avila prayed at the relic almost everyday. "It's like a piece of our little heart has been pulled out and that little heart beat is gone and we need to get it back," she said.
"For somebody to do it, it's like they must be out of their mind, and I'm really sorry for them. I pray for them," church member Lourdes Paredes said.
There were no witnesses and no security cameras inside the church.
Police say that with few clues, there is little they can do. "We're hoping that the thief will have a change of heart and perhaps we can discover it again and restore this important relic to our church," Hurley said.
There is a sign on the display case that is asking for someone to return the relic, with no questions asked.
EXCLUSIVE: Ancient relic stolen from Catholic church in San Francisco