Fire damage to historic Catholic church downtown estimated at $15,000

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INDIANAPOLIS — Officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Indianapolis firefighters responded to the city’s oldest Catholic church early Wednesday morning.

An Indianapolis Fire Department spokesperson told Fox59 they believe someone may have started a small fire in the sanctuary of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church during an attempted burglary.


Smoke fills St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church folowing an apparent arson and break-in early Wednesday morning.

Officers arrived to the church around 4:15 a.m. to investigate a report of a break-in. After talking with Father Rick Nagel, they called IFD because of a fire alarm in the church.

Firefighters arrived to find paper material set on fire in the sanctuary. It’s not known if anything was actually stolen in the burglary.

Damage to the nationally registered historic building is estimated at $15,000. No damage was done to the alter or pews of the church, but thick black smoke filled the entire sanctuary.

Due to the fire, staff canceled Wednesday’s 12:10 p.m. mass at the 175-year-old church. Services will resume once investigators and the Archdiocese have a chance to conduct their investigation.


  • Marine57

    Whoever the perp was, he will not get away with his evil doings in God's church – He was watching and will exact appropriate punishment at the appointed time…

  • cjmo2662

    Starting a fire inn any church is horrible; whoever did this, it will rise up to bite you. You will reap what you sow! I hope they catch you soon.

    Fortunately for the church, the damages were relatively minor; many older buildings burn to the ground. This historic building should be fixed up and restored good as new in a short time.

  • Fire Damaged

    Hi 'Vanessa', thanks for this informative information. Really, it was so sad. $15000 money is not a small amount of money. One can guess the damage after putting the eye on this amount of money.

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