A group of nuns in northern Kentucky was mourning the death of one of their fellow sisters when they suffered a second loss during the funeral preparations.
The Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery in Villa Hills said someone stole 125 gold rings that had belonged to the now-deceased sisters of their order over the course of the monastery’s more than 150-year history.
“The rings for each of us is a sign of our final profession to monastic life, our commitment and relationship to God, each other in our monastic community, the Church and to all we encounter,” Sister Aileen Bankemper, prioress of the monastery, wrote Saturday in a Facebook post. “The rings of our deceased sisters are the tangible connection with them.”
On Thursday, the nuns announced the burglary in a Facebook post asking for help recovering the rings.
“Although a large sum of money was taken, what hurts us more deeply is that all the rings from our deceased sisters — our physical remembrance of each sister were stolen,” Bankemper wrote.
The Villa Hills police are investigating.
Chief Bryan Allen of the Villa Hills police told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the burglar took the rings and cash from several offices between Aug. 10 and 12.
An anonymous donor has offered a $5,000 reward for the return of the rings.
The burglar left behind the velvety ring box and one ring inscribed with the letters IHS, a symbol for the name Jesus.
Sister Mary Rabe said most of the more than 30 nuns living at the monastery wear the rings on the ring finger of their left hand, much like a wedding ring.
Bankemper wrote Saturday that the community appreciates the concern shown in the wake of the burglary.
“We also want to express that though this is a personal and communal loss and tragedy for us, we recognize there are tragedies far more grave occurring in our world – children, taken at the border and still separated from parents, school shootings, homelessness, ongoing wars and unrest in the Middle East, etc.,” she wrote. “We pray daily for these and other concerns. “