Spirited Away: Art Thieves Target Europe's Churches

DAVIDE MONTELEONE / CONTRASTO FOR TIME

TEST OF FAITH: Father Antonio Paglia in Capranica's church, its walls empty after thieves stole the Stations of the Cross

Getting into the church was easy. The thieves probably walked in through the front door, posing as a few more of the faithful who come to bow their heads in St. John the Evangelist, the most important church in Capranica, 35 miles (56 km) north of Rome. They hid, waited to be locked in after the last people left, then went to work. They ignored the candlesticks, the alms box and the communion chalice: those are for amateurs — easy to grab, easy to sell. These were professionals, and they were after something specific: the Via Crucis, or Stations of the...

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