Busy Praying


Shown with Vatican gendarmes in 1930, after being caught stealing from donation boxes in St. Peter’s Basilica, Gino de Paolis had the distinction of being the first person to be held in the Vatican jail. Moving from altar to altar, pretending to pray, he used a stick with a piece of soap on the end, dipped it into the coin box, pulled it out, removed the stuck coins and put them in his coat pocket. He was first spotted by the gendarmes because they had never before seen someone praying in such “a very busy manner.”

From The Pope’s Backyard (1967) by Curtis G. Pepper


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