Various religious mementos, including a cross and rosary beads blessed by the late Pope John Paul II, and historic letters and jewelry were among the items stolen during a break-in Thursday at the South Boston home of Raymond L. Flynn, the longtime former Boston mayor and an ambassador to the Vatican, police said.
Flynn said tonight that the theft occurred when he and his wife left their Flint Place home at 8:45 that morning to attend a funeral Mass in Dorchester for the mother of former Speaker of the House Thomas M. Finneran.
He said that some time after the couple left, thieves broke in and stole the cross and silver rosary, a family heirloom wedding ring, personal letters and medallions from several world leaders and dignitaries, a laptop computer, a GPS device, and an iPod.
‘‘Just about everything I’ve collected over the past 50 years was stolen,’’ Flynn, 71, said in an interview. ‘‘It’s priceless to us. You can’t put a value on it.’’
The couple returned around 1 p.m. and ate lunch in their first-floor dining room, he said. Shortly afterward, Flynn ventured upstairs and discovered the bedroom and office ‘‘ransacked,’’ closets torn open, and clothes scattered over the floor.
The letters taken were from Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, Mother Teresa, John Paul II, South African president Nelson Mandela, and baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams, Flynn said. The correspondence was contained in an envelope marked ‘‘valuable letters.’’
The intruders also made off with his grandmother’s wedding ring from Ireland, more than 200 coins from around the world, and much of his wife’s jewelry, he said.
‘‘We’re just so sad about losing everything that we did,’’ Flynn said. ‘‘We’ve never gone through anything like this before.’’
Officers arrived on the scene a few hours after the Flynns returned home and noticed minor damage to the front door, where burglars possibly pried their way in, Boston Police Superintendent William Evans said at a press conference at police headquarters tonight. There were no other obvious signs of forced entry, he said. Flynn also told police that the door was locked, according to Evans.
It is not clear how many people were involved or if the home was targeted in some way, Evans said. It is only the second breaking and entering case in the area since the start of the year, he said.
However, Flynn said his next-door neighbor heard someone try to break into their own home around 9 that morning.
Police fingerprinted the Flynns’ home, and detectives plan to monitor local pawn shops for the stolen items, Evans said. The incident remains under investigation.
Flynn served as Boston mayor from 1984 to 1993. He was later appointed the US Ambassador to the Holy See by Clinton, holding the position from 1993 to 1997.
Evans said police are doing all they can to calm the former three-term mayor and his wife after the burglary.
‘‘Having been the victim of a housebreak myself, it’s not a good feeling,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m sure he feels like he’s been violated.’’
As terrible as the experience has been, Flynn said the outpouring of support from friends and family has helped he and his wife cope. Various neighbors have stopped by with baked goods, and concerned telephone calls from the community keep coming in, he said.
‘‘I love South Boston. I love my neighborhood. I love my neighbors,’’ Flynn said. ‘‘After 71 years, we’re not changing. These are the people we love, this is where we’re staying.’’
L.Finch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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