CATAMARCA, Argentina, FEB. 1, 2008 ( A spokesman of the Franciscan Province of the Assumption in Argentina reported that -- for the second time -- the incorrupt heart of Servant of God Bishop Mamerto Esquiú has been stolen from the church where it's kept.

"The whole of the Catamarcan society is disturbed by this sacrilegious robbery that has brought so much damage to the community and the Franciscans," Father Pablo Reartes said.

Bishop Esquiú was the prelate of Cordoba, Argentina, and died in 1883. His body was laid to rest in that city's cathedral, but his heart was found to be incorrupt, and is kept at the Franciscan monastery in Catamarca. The bishop was declared a Servant of God in 2005 and the cause for his beatification is progressing.

According to a statement from the Franciscans, the robbery occurred Jan. 22, when "someone threw a rock through the window and broke the crystal urn where it was kept."

Investigation into the robbery was transferred Thursday to federal officers.

The Franciscans reported that the heart was previously stolen on Oct. 30, 1990, and found one week later hidden within the monastery.


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