Galilee church vandalized, offering money stolen

Vandalism inside the Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

The Church of the Transfiguration in the lower Galilee was robbed and vandalized, leaving church officials and police to suspect criminal motives.

Thieves robbed the offering basket, took chalices and desecrated the communion elements, police said.

The incident took place on October 24, 2016. The robbers were likely not religiously motivated due to the lack of graffiti that is usually associated with the vandalism of religious extremists, according to Wadie Abunassar, a spokesman for bishops in the Holy Land.

Police said an estimated $100 was taken out of the offering box, while some chalices were stolen, communion wafers were thrown on the floor and a statue was knocked over outside the church. No arrests being made as of yet.

The Franciscan church is located on Mount Tabor and is believed to be the same mountain where Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus and a few of his disciples. Peter, James and John went up with Jesus to the mountain where a radiance came over Jesus as Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with him. A cloud descended and out of it came the voice of God saying: “This is my Son whom I love. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:1-13; Luke 9:28-36; Mark 9:2-13)

The current church, completed in 1924, was built on the ruins of a Byzantine church and a 12th-century church of the Crusader period.