125 gold rings, $1,800 taken from St. Walburg Monastery

125 rings stolen from nuns

VILLA HILLS, KY (FOX19) - Dozens of gold rings were recently taken from a group of nuns in northern Kentucky. The Benedictine sisters are still reeling from the loss.

In the history of the monastery, they've never had to make an announcement like this, that during funeral preps for a fellow sister, someone not only stole a big chunk of cash from them, but something much more valuable as well.

"It just seems too low to take the rings -- it's like wow! Why would you do that?" said Sister Aileen Bankemper, the Prioress at the St. Walburg Monastery.

Just like that, 150 years of their history was stolen. It happened some time between this past Saturday and Monday, Aug. 13. Up until this past Saturday morning, the purple, velvet-lined case holding 125 rings was intact.

"It has 113 spaces we figured out, then some other rings were laying in here," said Sister Nancy Kordenbrock.

All of the rings are 14 karat gold with black onyx inlays, Kordenbrock said. The Benedictine Sisters get them at the final profession of their vows. After a funeral service for a sister, the ring returns to the box for the next sister to cherish for the rest of her life.

On Monday, when the sisters were busy with vigil preparations for Sister Cecilia Daigle, another nun noticed the cash box had been jimmied and $1,800 was missing.

Right before the vigil, they noticed something else was missing -- a key to the book keeper's office. It, too, had been broken into.

"Sister Christa came up to me and said, 'It's much worse,'" said Bankemper.

And when she looked for the ring box, she was crestfallen.

A huge set of keys also disappeared, and it costs them a bundle to replace.

Villa Hills police are questioning the 30 employees who work there.

Thirty-six sisters live there, and the rings have been a part of their lives and the monastery since 1859. To say the sisters would be eternally grateful to get the rings back is no understatement. They're praying for their safe return and an anonymous donor has $5,000 for whoever can make that happen.

If you think you know what happened to the rings, or know who might have them now, call the Villa Hills Police at 859-341-3535 or the Kenton County Sheriff's Office at 859-356-3191.

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