Man Charged With Stealing 19th Century Bible From Church

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Members of a south St. Louis church are celebrating after police returned their historic bible on Wednesday.

The antique was stolen from St. John’s Lutheran Church on Friday.

“It is the original bible from when the church was founded in 1865," says church secretary Joan Potvin, “it’s part of us, it’s part of our church.”

But the church was without its valuable heirloom for several days, unfortunately including Christmas. She explains, "We only bring it out for special occasions, which happened to be Christmas. It was pretty depressing. But our pastor prayed for the thief, and prayed that he got caught."

Now, the German bible is back in the hands of believers.

On Sunday, the thief tried to sell it to several antique shops along Cherokee Street. Knez Jakovac, co-owner of Hammond’s Antiques and Books, finally bought it.

Jakovac explains, “I wasn’t thinking that it was stolen from a church, that never occurred to me, but I was thinking it might have been stolen from another bookstore, so I offered him $30 for it. I thought if it’s not stolen, I’ll have it, and if it is stolen, I’m not gonna be out much.”

His suspicions were confirmed when the man took the cash and ran—before Jacovac could take down his information. The owner didn’t find the bible in his book dealer’s database, but he did discover it on the news. That's when he called police, who promptly took the holy book.

Now it's being stored in a church safe, where it will stay until the church's New Year's service.

“It’s like a godsend," says Potvin, "I truly can’t describe how I feel. Except I could cry because I’m so happy. And that’s the way everybody feels.”

Church members will be even happier to know that a suspect is now behind bars.

Jacob Lenau, 20, was charged with three counts of Burglary 2nd, two counts of Theft/Stealing 2nd and two counts of Property Damage 2nd.

Police say Lenau could be responsible for six burglaries at the church throughout the past few months.

St. Louis Church Fights Back After Multiple Burglaries

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