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The stolen image of the infant Jesus of Betis has finally been recovered!

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Official Statement of the Archdiocesan Commission on Church Heritage (ACCH) – Archdiocese of San Fernando on the Recovery of the Stolen Image of the Infant Jesus of Betis
*F*I*L*I*P*I*N*O*e*S*C*R*I*B*B*L*E*S*
The image of Betis Church’s Infant Jesus that was taken from Virgen de la Correa’s embrace in the afternoon of 30 December 2013 has been recovered with the help of renowned ecclesiastical art restorer Thomas Joven.

Joven, who heads the Parish Pastoral Council of San Guillermo Parish of Bacolor and who also serves as member of the Tangible Heritage Committee of ACCH, reported his find to diocesan church authorities as the image surfaced in the antiques market, days after it was reported to be missing.

The Infant Jesus was stolen as the Betis community was celebrating its parish fiesta. Ivory parts of the image (particularly the head, hands, and feet) went up for sale in the antiques market in Manila not long after. Joven intimates that he spent ₱167,000 to be able to retrieve and secure the image and is ready to turn it over any moment to the parish priest of Saint James Parish in Betis Church, Guagua. The image was handed to him in a small plastic bag minus the body and the hairpiece.

ACCH denounces the theft and trafficking of stolen religious icons and other church treasures. In recent years, this illegal trade has been carried out with alarming boldness and shamelessness. In cases like this, some unscrupulous entities are bound to make easy money. It is most unfortunate that they choose to ignore the fact that what make religious icons priceless and precious are the historical, cultural and spiritual meanings that Catholic devotees attach to such symbols of their faith.

ACCH commits itself to helping curb the illegal trade of stolen religious icons and other church treasures. We vow to cooperate with authorities to minimize the threat of losing more church goods to thieves. In this regard, we enjoin all parishes of the Archdiocese of San Fernando to:

1. Undertake a parish-wide inventory and documentation of all church goods and properties;
2. Institute security measures (e.g. installation of CCTV cameras/alarms or hiring of security guards) that can help deter theft of these goods;
3. Remind parishioners to be more vigilant in protecting the material treasures/tangible heritage of their respective parishes;

Our gratitude to antique collectors, media entities, netizens, heritage workers,and to everyone who offered leads and prayers, and who helped spread the word about the theft of the image.

The recovered ivory parts of the Niño Jesús del Virgen de la Correa of Betis with ecclesiastical art restorer Tom Joven who helped get back the image.

Photos and text from Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio S. David, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of San Fernando.

One of Betis Church’s centuries-old icons: STOLEN!

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An Appeal to Cultural Heritage Workers, Antique Collectors, and to the Public from the Archdiocesan Commission on Church Heritage – Archdiocese of San Fernando
The centuries-old, ivory image of the Child Jesus of Betis Church’s Virgen de la Correa (see photo below) was stolen yesterday, 30th of December 2013, after the town fiesta procession. We appeal to you to be on the look-out for this significant piece of Betis heritage and let us know of possible leads that can help us recover it.
Betis folks have always been proud and protective of their religious and cultural heritage. The images of Virgen de la Correa and the Child Jesus are among the legacies left by the Augustinian missionaries who established a mission in Betis in 1572. These are properties of Betis Church, as documented in the 1790 Santa Visita de la Iglesia de Betis (Archdiocesan Archives of Manila Box 6.A.3, Folder 9).
If you can offer information about the missing image of the Child Jesus, please contact:
1) The Office of Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David: cellphone no. (0917)508-0302; tel. no. (045) 888-63-55, loc. 2; Email: ambo.david@yahoo.com
2) Saint James the Apostle Heritage Foundation, Inc.: tel. no. (045) 900-00-22

Photo and textual info from Thomas Joven.

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