ST. JOSEPH, Minn. (WCCO) – In this season of giving, someone has taken part of the nativity scene from a Minnesota church.

Mary and Joseph are among the figures stolen from a display outside the Church of St. Joseph, located in the town of St. Joseph.

The church is led by Father Jerome Tupa, who says the manger’s appearance signals the beginning of the advent season, placed near the intersection of Main and Minnesota Streets.

“Everybody when they would drive to that crossroads would see it,” Father Jerome said.

But in the cover of night last Thursday, pieces of the display began to disappear.

“The first thing to go was a shepherd,” he said. “The other figures – Mary, Joseph and some of the animal- they took off one night.”

Father Jerome says since 1986, the manger has ushered in a season of giving, hope and peace.

Now it sits nearly empty.

“There are two little lambs that are left,” he said.

Students who pass by the Nativity appeared upset. Most say if it’s a prank, it’s not a very funny one.

Father Jerome says the figurines are valued at more than $1,000, but the value goes far beyond what they cost.

“I wish they can bring them back,” he said. “I would like to see them back because we have an empty manger out there.”

St. Joseph Police and security at both the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University are keeping an eye out for the missing figurines.

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