March 4th, 2012
11:18 AM ET

900-year-old saint's heart vanishes from cathedral

By Richard Allen Greene and Peter Taggart, CNN

Police in Ireland are studying security camera footage from a cathedral in Dublin after the preserved heart of the city's patron saint was stolen over the weekend, they said Monday.

The 900-year-old heart of St. Laurence O'Toole was taken from the iron cage where it is normally kept in Christ Church Cathedral, police and the Cathedral said.

The bars were wrenched open, allowing access to the heart-shaped wooden box that held the relic bolted to a wall in Saint Lauds Chapel, Irish police said.

Security cameras cover the cathedral's welcome desk, but not the interior of the chapel or the cathedral, police said.
The heart disappeared between Friday evening and Saturday noon, police said.

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Cathedral staff called the disappearance of the relic "truly awful and strange" and said they were "shocked and saddened."

An empty cage once held the heart of 900-year-old saint.

Adding to the mystery, there was no sign of a break-in, police told CNN.

Nothing was taken from the chapel other than the heart, although Irish media said gold candesticks and other valuables were there.

Cathedral staff called the disappearance of the relic "truly awful and strange" and said they were "shocked and saddened."

St. Laurence O'Toole, an archbishop of Dublin in the 12th century, was born in 1128, lived until 1180, and was made a saint in 1225, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Christ Church is a Protestant Church of Ireland cathedral.

Catholics often preserve body parts from saints, believing they should be venerated. When Pope John Paul II was declared "blessed" - a step below sainthood - last year, a vial of his blood was displayed as a relic.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Crime • Ireland

soundoff (938 Responses)
  1. anon

    How's that old joke go: "you've stolen my heart. That's okay, I have three more in a freezer at home".

    March 5, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  2. catholic engineer

    Science and its strange practices. I once went to a science museum where I noticed several human fetuses on display in jars.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • FifthApe

      There is a difference. If you can't figure it out, then that says much.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Fupped DUCK

      Are churches now considered as "Scienific"?
      I do not think any miracles like that will ever happen.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • JT

      Caholic engineer? What an oxymoron. That you would make this comparison says it all.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The difference being that neither the scientists nor the museum goers claim that the pickled foetesus have magic powers.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  3. catholic engineer

    Reminds me a little of Fr. Stanley Rother of Oklahoma. He was a missionary to Quatemala. Revolutionaries were persecuting priests and he was advised to leave. He refused saying "The shepherd does not abandon his sheep." Fr. Stanley was murdered. His heart is buried in Quatemala, and his other remains in Oklahoma.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  4. norm

    There are those with eyes who cannot see. And there are those with no eyes who can see.
    The mystery is not given to anyone. It is given to those who can see without seeing....

    March 5, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  5. labandme

    Well, when a Catholic priest has no alterboy or warm liver...just sayin.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  6. The Doctor

    These are a people who practice symbolic cannibalism and call it holy communion. Is it really any wonder they would also preserve and venerate body parts?

    March 5, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Irishcat

      If you really don't know what you are talking about, it is better not to respond!

      March 5, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • catholic engineer

      Symbolic cannibalism? "Does this offend you? What then if you see me ascend to the place from which I was before?" It's in John 6, Doctor.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • The Doctor

      @irishcat and catholic engineer.
      I will tell you this..The Church and its rituals do not offend me. At one point I was devout in my beliefs.I attended Divinity School,was ordained,then left the Priesthood the next day. I realized that rituals and symbols is not what God is all about. Religion is not about carving up our dead, it's about our personal relationship with God. When you have walked in my shoes,then you may pass judgement on me.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  7. Fupped DUCK

    "Unchain my heart"...."Set me free"

    March 5, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  8. t3chsupport

    Reminds me of a Futurama...
    " -I- was going to eat that mummy!"

    Really though, that's what you get for keeping creepy old corpse parts. You get your creepy corpse parts stolen. Freaks.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  9. Kevin O.

    So they worship beef jerky?

    March 5, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Wes

      Heart jerky.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Jimmy

      Hearty har har

      March 5, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  10. anon

    I had no idea the catholics kept such things. My God, no wonder folks are calling religion crazy, and I consider myself to be religious. This is right up there with veils and stonings and such stuff. I can just see the conversation of the dying: "Would you like to have my heart when I die?" Answer: "Umm, no thanks, I have so many knick knacks it would just be one more thing I would have to dust"

    March 5, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Tom

      no shortage of crazy within religion, that's for sure

      March 5, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  11. Susan

    catholics and their strange rituals! Hearts and blood and if a true representation of the catholic priests were preserved they would have taken the unit of the pope instead. I dont think anything can save the catholics after what they have enabled,even in todays times it continues. God bless the catholic children, they are the true victims.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • FifthApe

      Susan – is your version of god any stranger than the Catholics? I bet not.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Jimmy

      It doesn't seem any stranger to me than worshiping a naked dead Jew nailed to a piece of wood. The whole christian faith is based on human blood sacrifice, "eating flesh and drinking blood" and all that nonsense. Keeping human body parts in the churches seems perfectly logical considering all the rest...

      March 5, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Susan

      Well Apeman, I dont enable pedophiles like the catholic church does. My version of God is he is like a father to us all and is probably very angry that his so called followers and the men who represent him in the catholic church are betraying everything he stands for while victimizing his children. Maybe God will forgive them but I certainly wont. Also, I would never back up a church who condones and funds illegal abuse on children.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Wes

      If the almighty God gets "angry" (an emotion confined to the laws of physics) then we have a real problem with existence!

      March 5, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • FifthApe

      Susan – Can snakes talk? Can the dead come back to life? Was their a world wide flood? I thought so...

      March 5, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  12. mjd

    Personally I don't believe in relics but I wonder about people who have to steal something like that. To what purpose?

    March 5, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Stan C

      have a heart!!!!!!! well, i guess someone does.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Wes

      Now you're learning the REAL Wizard of Oz story!

      March 5, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Lewis Keseberg

      Catholics do like their holy flesh – maybe someone wanted to eat something different than Jesus for once. Though I'd imagine this would be fairly stale. Irish heart jerky doesn't really sounds appealing.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  13. norm

    You will see in the next few months, many incidences of the kind. Albeit strange, but nonetheless necessary.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Jimmy

      Yes, I'm sure god had to use a crow-bar lol

      March 5, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • BRC

      Why necessary?

      March 5, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Tom

      somehow just like at any other point in history, strange things happen. care to make a real prediction, with specifics and a date?

      March 5, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • aon

      Response to Jimmy: Yeah, kind of reminds me of what kirk asked the alien: "What does God need with a starship?" However, I wouldn't totally rule out supernatural forces in this just yet. Keep the thought on the back burner while looking through the more likely possibilities. However, if, and it's a BIG if, this has some sort of supernatural leanings, then it could just be possible that God simply wanted to make a point with the bent metal. Wait, that made NO sense did it?? He would be making a point by NOT bending the metal.

      Okay, someone broke in and took it.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • aon

      I would like to hear the conversation when they call this in to their insurance company!!

      March 5, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  14. Matt

    How retarded to keep a heart of some dead guy. Why put importance one someone like that? It just shows you the gullibility of religious people.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  15. norm

    This relic along with many others ARE NOT stolen. They have been taken for safe keeping.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Tom

      nah, it was stolen. Get over it.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • t3chsupport

      Safety? He's already dead. It's a dried up old heart. Safety is kind of a moot point.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • anon

      Yeah. No one believes in God or the supernatural more then I, but it was stolen. And not by anything superanatural. No evidence of a break in probably means that the perp had a set of keys.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  16. FifthApe

    Lets see. Dead people are said to perform miracles, then get classified as saints and their body parts put on display by a church that performs symbolic ritualized cannibalism and people wonder why I think the religious are crazy? Hmmm. Maybe snakes can talk? Who knew...

    March 5, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  17. LordEarlGray

    The very idea that such things should be venerated is wierd just as it's crazy to claim those "relics" are actually what they are claimed to be. Why people actually believe the relics are genuine is certainly inexplicable as is the notion they would be worth stealing to begin with.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  18. norm

    No. This relic is forever gone. Taken by angels. And so will other relics throughout the world be taken away.
    God's judgement is at end. This is a sign. This is the fullfillment of prophecy of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelations.

    Good christians past (Saints) and present will not go through the tribulation. It is written.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • FifthApe

      Norm – thats crazy talk....

      March 5, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Tony in Indy

      RIIIIIIGHT (in Dr Evil's voice)

      March 5, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Jimmy

      The scary part is that people like Norm really exist and there are a lot of them.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • JustPlainJoe

      Anti-psychotic medications are very effective for this sort of thing.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Wes

      Why would angels want an old rotten heart? I thought a person's body is simply their vessel and not important once they die? After all, if the world is going to be ending soon, what do angels need body parts and other "relics" for? Your religion is friggen retarded dude.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • anon

      I WISH that were true, and no one wants to believe your version more then I do. However, it just doesn't explain the bent up metal on the cage. The busted up metal cage pretty much says it all as far as whether or not this was a supernatural event.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • labandme

      Norm you'd make a great muslim!

      March 5, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • norm

      On breaking the bars.... please lookup how angels freed St-Paul by breaking the shackles he was in and
      breaking the LOCK he was imprisoned in.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • *facepalm*

      " please lookup how angels freed St-Paul by breaking the shackles he was in and
      breaking the LOCK he was imprisoned in."

      Also look up how Harry Potter was able to break into Gringolts in his quest to defeat Voldemort.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  19. John

    What part of "There is no other mediator between God and Man save Jesus Christ" do the Catholics just not understand? They call themselves Christians, then ignore what He taught. THAT is "truly awful and strange" if you ask me.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • jbcal

      So who asked you?

      March 5, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Jimmy

      And what part of "There is only ONE god" do you not understand? You see, you are doing nothing different than anyone else; worshiping in your own way and then saying that everyone else is doing it wrong. FREE YOUR MIND FROM THE BONDAGE OF RELIGION!

      March 5, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  20. Woody

    How much credit did the ECB give for it?

    How much will Greece get for their "priceless" objects of antiquity to pay back their debt?

    March 5, 2012 at 9:46 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.