A church considered to be the first miracle west of the Mississippi River became the seventh to be targeted by a suspected arsonist in St. Louis early Thursday. Like other arson cases since Oct. 8, the front exterior doors of the rectory of the Shrine of St. Joseph were set on fire using a small amount of accelerant, reports NBC News. Unlike the other cases, however, the Catholic church was mostly frequented by white people, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Police earlier suggested the possibility of a hate crime, since all the churches targeted were predominantly black churches.
Built in 1843, the Shrine of St. Joseph is sometimes called the "Miracle Church." After a sick immigrant was reportedly healed by a relic belonging to future saint Peter Claver, the Vatican labeled it a miracle in 1843. Authorities say the latest fire, which was quickly extinguished, hasn't given them any clues as to a motive or suspect, but they hope a $9,000 reward will help lead to an arrest soon. "If you have observed anyone who has recently expressed anger or frustration with our religious community or with these particular churches, we ask that you contact us," authorities say. (Read more St. Louis stories.)