Stolen Gospel Returned to Lovejoy Church

November 29, 2011 Updated Nov 29, 2011 at 12:21 AM EDT

By WKBW Internet

November 29, 2011 Updated Nov 29, 2011 at 12:21 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) -- An ornate copy of the Holy Gospel that was stolen from Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Lovejoy two weeks ago was returned over the weekend.

The book was stolen from the Ideal Street church two weeks ago. Vandals targeted copper on the church's roof as well as copper down-spouts inside the church. The copy of the Gospel was stolen from its resting place inside the sanctuary.

Father Volodymyr Zablotskyy appealed to the thief on Channel 7 two weeks ago, saying his church was only interested in the return of the book, and had even scraped up a reward for its return.

The gospel book dates back to the founding of the brick church in 1933, and could be even older.

On Saturday, a teary-eyed man approached a church parishioner who lives in the neighborhood and walks by the church often. The stranger asked the parishioner if he attended the church, and then said he 'had to do the right thing,' then handed him the book, embraced him with a hug, and walked away.

A surprised and overjoyed Reverend Zablotskyy read a very appropriate passage from the gospel Sunday morning during service.

"Where Jesus, by touching healed a woman....and I was talking about how we witnessed an even greater miracle when Jesus was touching the heart of that man, and I urged my parishioners not to judge, and to forgive and to pray for the gentleman," said Father Zablotskyy.

Zablotskyy and the congregation say their not interested in finding out who stole the book, but that they are thankful their prayers have been answered, and even welcome the thief to attend service at their church.

"I'd like to let him know [the thief] that God loves him and forgives him and so do we," added Zablotskyy.