Ten sisters have allegedly fled their convent in Spain, with over 20 pieces of stolen art.
The group of nuns are accused of taking a range of sacred paintings and sculptures from the Convent of Amor Misericordioso y de la Madre de Dios, Avila, following its closure in October.
Amongst the treasured pieces lifted from the 15th century convent, the most valuable was a painting by Alonso Cano, a 17th century Spanish artist. The picture depicts Christ after the resurrection.
Following the heist, some 300 local residents staged a protest, condemning the theft as “shameful”.
Speaking to The Times, one Piedráhita protestor said: “We have the right to make that demand because we are talking about centuries of the history of Piedráhita, of ties of union, of worship, of feeling, and of the heritage of a people.”
The mayor, Maria Carmen Zafra has accused the nuns of closing the convent without prior consultation, leaving residents without the integral place of worship or its historic artwork.
The works have reportedly been transported to the Convent of San Andrés in Salamanca while the nuns have moved to a Carmelite community in Valencia.
Zafra was reportedly informed that convent's owner - the Mater Unitatis Federation of the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance - had a permit for the transfer of the assets.
A local action group has applied to protect the site and its historic pieces. Their application is being reviewed.