The parish community of San Buenaventura Mission, saddened by the theft of holy relics stolen last month, brightened considerably this week with the announcement that eight of the nine relics — including those of Blessed Junípero Serra and St. Bonaventure — had been recovered.Police recovered most of the relics from an individual who knew the suspect and became aware of their value to the Mission, said Commander Brock Avery of the Ventura Police Department, at a Nov. 6 news conference.“He told police he didn’t know what they were at first, but relinquished them to investigators,” said Avery, who indicated that no charges have been brought against the unnamed individual.One additional relic was recovered by investigators during the press conference and returned to the Mission shortly afterward.The recovery of the relics was made possible by a video security system recently installed in the mission courtesy of a California Missions Foundation grant, said Father Tom Elewaut, pastor. “If it weren’t for the foundation’s grant to provide video cameras and security, we would not have had the videotape and we wouldn’t have found the relics,” he said at the news conference, held in the mission garden.The relics had been kept in the mission’s baptistery — a small side room located in the back of the historic church, not far from the Main Street entrance — and were discovered to be missing on Nov. 3. A check of surveillance tapes indicated that on Oct. 12 an individual forced his way through iron gates and into the locked baptistery, and removed the relics contained in a 17-by-21-inch frame casing and displayed on a baptistery wall.In the video, the suspect is seen hiding in a corner of the baptistery as visitors walk past during a tour of the mission. He also removed holy oil from the ambry inside the baptistery and tried to drink it, apparently mistaking it for wine, and spit it out.The suspect — Edward Burgess, 26, of Ventura — had been on a “crime spree,” said Avery, and was already in custody when the theft was discovered. The suspect allegedly had also stolen items from the mission’s gift shop. He was arrested Oct. 31 on suspicion of stealing property from a kiosk in the Pacific View Mall.Father Elewaut — who has added additional security to the baptistery — said he did not know if the suspect had any idea of what he was stealing from the baptistery. The relics include two bone fragments apiece from Father Serra, who founded San Buenaventura Mission in 1782, the last of the nine California missions that he personally founded (out of the 21); St. Bonaventure, patron of the Mission; and St. Catherine Laboure.All seven were recovered, along with one from St. Bernard. At the time of the recovery, the relics were packaged in gold gift boxes, said Avery.“We don’t know what the street value of these relics might be,” Father Elewaut said, “but there is certainly significant spiritual value to them.” Some of them were gifts from Rome, he said, and they are attractions for many of those who visit the mission throughout the year.Still missing is a relic from St. Vincent de Paul, which (like most of the others) was encased in a medallion within the frame, and was larger than the others. The investigation, which the Ventura police regard as “high priority,” is continuing, said Avery.“There is great significance to these relics,” he explained, “because of their importance to the history of the city, to the very foundation of this community. So it is naturally important to the Ventura Police Department.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/1109/relics/{/gallery}