LONG BEACH, Calif. – Parishioners at St. Anthony Church in Long Beach prayed fervently after their 780-year-old relic was stolen. When it was returned, they thanked God and the police for bringing their little piece of St. Anthony back home.

“St. Anthony is the patron saint of travelers and lost things, but today he’s also the honorary saint of the Long Beach Police Department,” said the pastor, the Rev. Jose Magana.

Police recovered the relic of St. Anthony of Padua at the home of Maria Solis, 41, who was arrested on suspicion of commercial burglary, Deputy Police Chief Robert Luna said.

Parishioners applauded when a police officer placed the delicate gold and silver reliquary containing a tiny shard of bone on a table at the news conference in front of the church.

Magana credited both his flock’s prayers and the hard work of investigators for the return of the cherished relic.

“He just wanted to come home because it belongs to everyone,” Magana said, noting that the relic and its casing appeared to be undamaged.

Luna said detectives canvassed the neighborhood with a composite sketch of a person of interest who was seen at five Masses the day before the theft.

Detectives said they found the relic displayed in the living room of Solis’ home, about a mile from the church, Luna said.

The relic is rarely put on display, but Magana said he decided to bring it out this year because many of his parishioners have lost their homes, their jobs and their hope.