Carmelite sister turned cyber-sleuth attracts world-wide attention

stolen statues

American and British publications, including Britain’s Daily Express and New York’s Daily News, have been chasing the story of sister Johanna Penn after the Carmelite sister turned amateur sleuth to recover two stolen statues.

A large statue of the Sacred Heart along with a Little Infant of Prague statue, were seen being carried out of the Carmelite Monastery in Royal Oak in Auckland by a man and a woman who were caught on CCTV before 7.00 am last Friday.

Sister Johanna’s familiarity with social media seems to have challenged the image many people have of what a contemplative nun is like.

RNZ described her as someone “who helps out at the monastery”.

She had been hard on the case since the heist, running the CCTV footage through software to get clear shots of the couple before posting them to Facebook.

“Sadly, during this time, our chapel was empty, and we were about to begin our Morning Prayer. The Police have been notified. As you can see the car license plate is LKL441 – 1994 HONDA, please keep an eye out at flea markets or online. Thank you”

The statues were eventually found in a nearby cemetery the next day.

It may come as a surprise to many that according to the Daily Mail, “The monastery has owned the statue since 940AD”  Johanna’s post, however, makes a more modest claim: “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus which has been with us since 1940.”

Johanna does not hold anything against the couple, but she hopes they might find God in the process.

“No, I don’t have any angry feelings towards them, just empathy. I feel sorry – I know you’re a young couple, but you’ve got a whole life ahead of you,” she wrote.

“I pray that perhaps that this is a grace for them that perhaps they might find the Lord in their lives, so there is a reason.”


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