Spanish police are reportedly investigating a case of satanic vandalism after a priest found the number 666 and upside down crosses at a Spanish church containing the Veil of Veronica, a relic believed to have touched the face of Jesus Christ.
Catholic News Agency reported on Monday that a priest at the Monastery of the Holy Face in Alicante discovered the satanic 666 number on the shatter-proof glass containing the Roman Catholic relic, while several upside down crosses were found at the Stations of the Cross, which mark Jesus' journey toward His crucifixion.
Security cameras showed that the perpetrator was a young woman who hid herself inside the church on Saturday night. Although her name has not been released, authorities have reportedly identified her, and she is due to be arrested.
In addition to the satanic messages, the woman apparently stole a liturgical prayer book and another one where the liturgical acts of the monastery are recorded. The perpetrator had also tried to break the glass containing the veil, but was unable to do so, according to El Mundo newspaper.
Jesús Murgui, the bishop of the diocese, visited the monastery along with the vicar general following the attack, and spoke with the community of nuns who keep the relic. The nuns were said to have been "shocked" by the robbery.
The diocese said that they "are praying to God, Our Lord, for whomever caused this damage" and asked the faithful of Alicante that "the deplorable circumstances not be to the detriment of the love and the devotion that we feel toward this age-old relic of the Holy Face."
Some believers contend that the veil is a piece of cloth used by Saint Veronica of Jerusalem in the first century A.D. to wipe the blood and sweat off Jesus' face as He was on the way to Calvary, with His image supposedly being imprinted on the cloth.
The cloth is steeped in mystery as there are no known authentic photographs of it, Catholic Culture explains, and there are several different churches and monasteries that claim to guard the original veil.
CNA pointed out in another article that the veil had once been held at the Vatican, but went missing in the early 16th century, with its fate disputed.
Catholic leaders have visited the relic in private, with Pope Benedict XVI making one such visit back in 2006, not at the Alicante monastery, but at a remote Capuchin monastery in Manoppello in the Apennine Mountains.
Benedict apparently prayed before the cloth, which is believed to have miraculous healing powers, and later explained that the purpose of his visit was "so that together we can try to better know the face of our Lord, so that from it we can find strength in love and peace that can show us the path."
"Those who meet Jesus," the pope told the pilgrims, "those who let themselves be attracted by Him and are ready to follow Him even unto the sacrifice of their lives, personally experience, as He did on the cross, how only the 'grain of wheat' that falls to earth and dies brings 'much fruit.'"