The police in Rome and priests at a church near the Vatican are at a loss after a package containing €36,000 was found in a confessional box.
Police were called to Santa Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci to investigate what was thought to be a bomb, instead the found wads of €50 notes hidden beneath the priest’s chair in the confessional box.
Police suspect the money may have been left by a generous benefactor or someone repentant after acquiring the cash through illicit means, Guardian writes.
“At the moment we are not excluding any hypothesis,” Salvatore Friano, the police officer leading the investigation, told Il Messaggero.
“We are checking the origin of the banknotes and surveillance cameras in order to try to establish if [the money] came from a benefactor who wanted to donate to the church or someone who wanted to get rid of it.
“It cannot be ruled out that the money might have been illicitly acquired, maybe as a result of a recent theft or robbery in the city.”
The package was found by Father Giovanni Martire Savina, who remains baffled by its discovery.
“Until a few years ago every now and then someone would leave substantial monetary offers, even €1,000, but never this much,” he said.
“Certainly, such a sum would be useful for the church, but not to the detriment of someone else.”
The discovery reportedly prompted curious worshippers to flock to the church, with churchgoing on the decline in Italy over the last decade despite the considerable sway of Catholicism over the population.