Aspen History: Church wine thieves
“They stole the wine,” declared the Aspen Weekly Times on April 5, 1890. “Sunday evening two thieves entered the Catholic Church and stole a keg of wine. Father Downey had just returned from supper about 6 o’clock, and had gone into the front part of the church to fix the fire. He heard someone in the sacristy and at once concluded it must be thieves. He hastily went out of the front door and around to the rear door to cut off the retreat of the culprits. When the fellows heard Father Downey coming, they came out of the sacristy and Father Downey asked them what they wanted. They said they came to see the priest. Father Downey said ‘No, you are thieves and have come to rob the church.’ The boys had nothing about them when Father Downey caught them so he let them go thinking they had done no damage. When he went inside he found the boys had put a five gallon keg of wine into a gunny sack and were just getting ready to walk off with it when they were interrupted. Father Downey also discovered when he went to his residence that they had also tried to effect an entrance there but had found the doors and windows securely fastened. The priest then went after the police and described the men so well that they were soon found and placed in jail. The image above shows St. Mary’s Catholic Church, circa 1900.