A New Jersey church has been reunited with a baby Jesus statue that it said was stolen eight decades ago.
Our Lady of Grace and St. Joseph in Hoboken came across the surprise Wednesday when an unknown package was delivered to its doors.
Rev. Alexander Santora, the church priest, said he was initially apprehensive to open the package since it had no return address and it looked like “it was packed by a person” instead of a company. Because of this, Santora decided to call the Hoboken Police Department to report the suspicious package.
With a heat detecting device, the police department's Emergency Service Unit determined that there was nothing incendiary inside and that the package was safe to open, Santora said.
NBC 4 New York left a message with the Hoboken Police Department's Investigative Bureau, but the bureau did not immediately respond.
According to Santora, it "was a surprise" when a note and statue were found inside the package.
A copy of the note dated Jan. 2, which was provided to NBC 4 New York by Santora, said that the baby Jesus statue was stolen from the church’s Nativity display in the early 1930s. According to the sender, the statue somehow came into their grandfather’s possession, and the man never returned it.
“Instead, he gave it to my mother after she was married, and she too kept it until her passing when it came to me. Knowing the story, I felt it should be returned to the rightful owner, and you will find it enclosed,” the note read.
Santora took the note on good faith and welcomed the Baby Jesus back into the church. Santora said the plaster statue is in great condition after all these years, with “only a chip on the bottom.”
The package's postal tracking number traced back to Crystal Springs, Florida, according to Santora.
Though the parish has been in existence since the 19th century and has old statues and relics in storage, Santora is not sure if there any remnants around of the old Nativity scene that corresponds to the baby Jesus statue.