The priest of a quiet village in northern Italy has been arrested on suspicion of dealing drugs.
Father Stefano Maria Cavalletti was the Catholic priest in the town of Carciano di Stresa, on the scenic shores of the Lake Maggiore, before he was arrested for possession of cocaine in Italy’s fashion capital Milan.
Parishioners began to worry about the whereabouts of their priest when he went missing over the weekend.
A replacement was brought in to ensure Mass could be observed and two scheduled weddings could take place, but the mystery of the Church of Saint Joseph and Blaise’s disappearing priest was no nearer being solved.
It was not until two days later that the Father Cavalletti was eventually tracked down.
A chaplain from Milan’s notorious San Vittore jail had contacted the local Carciano di Stresa church authorities to tell them that they had located Father Cavalletti and that he was currently in jail after being arrested for possession of illegal drugs with the intent to supply.
Father Cavalletti was arrested when concerned neighbours had reported a drunken man shouting and screaming in an apartment block in Milan.
The man turned out to be Father Cavaletti, and on the police’s arrival they found Father Cavaletti tearing up his passport and attempting to flush the cocaine in his possession down the toilet.
After a search of the property, police also found large wads of cash and female clothing.
Father Cavaletti was taken into custody by police but insisted that he used cocaine as a self-prescribed drug to help him with the bouts of depression he had been suffering.
Despite possession of drugs for personal use not being a crime, if a person is found with a large amount of illegal substances on their person it is presumed that the owner intends to deal it.
On hearing the news his congregation in Carciano had said that they were "profoundly disconcerted and saddened" by the arrest and that they were “praying to God for light to be shed on the incident”.
It is not the first time Father Cavalletti has been in trouble with the authorities. Last September he was given a suspendended sentenced by a court in Verbania when he tried to swindle money out of an elderly woman.