May 28 (UPI) -- A New Jersey man who found a buried rosary while metal detecting a few miles from his home reunited the item with its owner -- 70 years after it was lost.
Daniel Jurgens said he took his metal detector to a large open space about 5 miles from his home May 14 and his haul for the day included a Brownie ring, a 1943 mercury dime, a couple pennies and a small metal container engraved with the image of the Virgin Mary.
Jurgens said he opened the container and found a rosary with an inscription reading: "Diana, May 5, 1946."
"So, I go home, and I clean it off a little bit better. ... I know that there's a Catholic church about three blocks from this park, and I call up the Catholic church, and I speak with the secretary," Jurgens told the Clinton Herald.
The secretary at Our Lady of Peace Church got back to Jurgens three days later and told him someone named Diana Antonides of Fords, N.J., had received her first communion on May 5, 1946.
Jurgens said a check of Ancestry.com found census records from 1940, when Antonides lived about three blocks away from where he found the rosary.
Antonides married Salvador Borja in 1958, and Jurgens found an obituary for Borja dated from 2017 that listed his wife among his survivors.
Jurgens said he was excited to learn Antonides might still be alive, and set off on a quest to contact the woman or her adult children.
Just two days later Jurgens connected with Antonides' daughter Kathy, who related his messages to her brother, Kris, and mother, who was indeed still alive at age 81.
Antonides said she believes the rosary -- a gift from her aunt, who was also her godmother -- was taken by a neighbor boy named Ritchie who had a habit of stealing her possessions. She said he must have buried it in the lot where Jurgens found it 70 years later.
The rosary arrived in the mail this week, Antonides said.
"I never thought I'd see that again," Antonides told NJ.com.