Metal thieves have caused £30,000 worth of damage after trying to wrench the holy cross from the roof of Birmingham Oratory in Edgbaston.
They damaged the cross on Sunday after they clambered up to rip it from the top of a domed roof and stole other metal.
The haul came to around £11,500 – but it will cost £30,000 to put right.
The Grade II listed building in Hagley Road was visited by Pope Benedict XVI in September 2010 after the beatification of Cardinal John Newman.
Fr Paul Chavasse, from the Oratory, said: “We have had to bring in a roofer to fit some temporary tarpaulin because the water is coming in and we have mosaics and marble that could be damaged.
“It remains to be seen if we are going to be covered with insurance because this is the second time it has happened.
“It’s an absolute plague. They took a considerable quantity of lead and caused a lot of damage to the roof.
“It is an important building for the city and is also important internationally.
“What is most shocking is how common this kind of crime has become.”
The Midlands is in the grip of a metal theft epidemic. Last week, the Mail told how crooks swiped drainage covers from a country road on the fringes of Sutton Coldfield.
And, in an unrelated court case, five men were jailed at Wolverhampton Crown Court for a total of more than 14 years over a £5 million plot to steal beer kegs.
In January, the Government announced plans to end cash payments at scrapyards in an attempt to stem the wave of metal thefts across the country.
West Midlands Police runs Operation Steel, aimed at curbing the menace of metal thieves.
A force spokesman said: “Officers were called following the theft from the roof of the Hagley Road site at some time from 9pm on Sunday to 7.30am on Monday.
“Lead from the building, valued at around £11,000, was stolen.
“Officers are making enquiries with scrap dealers and remind metal recyclers of their responsibilities when an item of suspect origin is offered to them for scrap.
“Operation Steel continues to run force-wide to tackle the theft and handling of high-value metal.”
* Anyone with information should call police on the non-emergency 101 line or speak to Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.