The art of the steal

Padre Pio is the unofficial patron of stress relief and New Year's blues.

Ironic solace to holiday visitors to St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx, who had expected to see a new mosaic of Padre Pio and two stained-glass windows depicting the Ascension of Jesus.

padre pio
Padre Pio mosaic, which was found in Olney.

It's because a creep (or creeps) in Philly stole the Florida artist's cargo van out of the parking lot of the Microtel near Philadelphia International Airport in October. (Philly hotel parking lots are murder on vans.)

Artist Paul Pickel of Vero Beach, Fla., said it was a year's work.

When police found the van in Olney a month later, the glass mosaic  an 8-by-12-foot rendition of the saint   was there (talk about your miracles), but the handmade stained-glass windows  each measuring 44 x 37 inches  were gone.

Pickel, whose workers were on their way to install the works at St. Raymond's, the Bronx's only Roman Catholic cemetery, said today that he was re-creating the windows. He said the mosaic would be installed next month but the windows are still a few months away.

Pickel said he got a gift in the mail the other day from Philly: a parking ticket, written up on the Olney street where cops found his van.

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