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. The Bishop of Crafton

    I fairly certain Norm is,nor was, a puppy. Were he, he'd be speaking of kibble and bits, rather than the spiritual.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  2. 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 10:50 am |
    • Consequence

      Baptism is a ritual and Jesus said you cannot enter into the Kingdom of God without it – seems there are some important rituals we cannot lay aside. Other than that, there is nothing greater than building a personal relationship with God.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • catholic engineer

      I'm not passing judgement on you, Doctor. Actually, I've almost been in your shoes. I was an atheist. Thought I was real rational, you know. Then, I discovered how inadequate human reason can be.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  3. Obamabus

    It was the Tinman. Sources indicate he may have had accomplices. Fiber analysis shows traces of straw and feline hair at the scene of the crime.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • ropeadope

      LOL! ...and Dorothy drove the get-away car!

      March 5, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  4. BRC

    I wonder of the thieves realize that Valentine's was last month, now they're going to have to hold on to that thing for a year before they use it for the most fitting/creepiest Valentine's day gift ever.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • ropeadope

      I doubt they will put up with the stink for that long! LOL!

      March 5, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  5. norm

    God works in mysterious ways.....Watch the news for other ""Strange" events concerning relics of the saints.


    March 5, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  6. ropeadope

    Keeping body parts is not cool. The last one that did it was a serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer!

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

    It was either Rick Santorum or Newt Gringrich who stole the reclic to have extra good luck tomorrow on Super Tuesday.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  8. HenryMiller

    What's truly strange is mounting a mummified bit of a dead body in a box on the wall. A bit macabre, actually...

    March 5, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • norm

      There is a saint in spain in which her whole body is preserved.. it has not decayed in 500 years and is still soft
      to the touch. Expect this saint to also disappear...

      March 5, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  9. Chad

    There must have been some treasure related to this and it was part of a clue! Totally like DaVinci code or something...

    March 5, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • That's What's Up

      scavenger hunt misunderstanding

      March 5, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  10. UncleJohn

    Maybe it bent open the bars and fled in shame at what the Catholic Church has become.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  11. svann

    I read that someone dug up Napoleon and stole his penis.

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

    On breaking the bars.... please lookup how angels freed St-Paul by breaking the shackles he was in and
    breaking the LOCK of the prison gate he was imprisoned in. If you have eyes.....see!

    March 5, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Jimmy

      Yes, use one nonsensical story to explain another lol. "How do you know the bible is right?" " Because it says so in the Bible, duh!"

      March 5, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • That's What's Up

      norm, it's just too bad someone broke your shackles and is allowing you to type up this drivel

      March 5, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • norm

      Youhave eyes but you do NOT see.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • That's What's Up

      you have a mind but "god" won't let you use it

      March 5, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Jimmy

      I don;t think the problem is "not seeing"...I think the problem is SEEING thing that aren't really there lol

      March 5, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  13. catholic engineer

    I've known quite a few "sane" people who have their relatives remains cremated, then keep the ashes in an urn around the house for years.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  14. JT

    The real sick part is that the church will pursue this theft with zeal utilizing the police, having ignored and covering up the r.pe of hundreds of thousands of children. Far greater value is put upon some dried up 900 year old organ. The safety of children is of no concern. And all the sickos who are parisioners of this cult are equally to blame.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Jimmy

      Churches don't pay taxes...they should have no access to using our public services

      March 5, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  15. Nena

    Maybe he wanted his heart back?

    March 5, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  16. midwestmatt

    Keeping pieces of the dead is an ancient bit of foolishness that persists today and should end entirely. Could you imagine keeping a few pieces of Pope John Paul II at various churches around the world? I would imagine that no one in today's Catholic Church would want that to happen and yet so many are completely fine with keeping bits of bodies of the long departed around. It's been a sick all along to do this and the Church needs to call it what it truly is: idolatry.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  17. jnyc

    Maybe someone is giving that heart a decent burial. There are ghouls for keeping that thing. Relics are ghoulish.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  18. That's What's Up

    awwww christ, who the hell would steal that?

    March 5, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  19. kukacok

    Heart transplant waiting lists are long. Some people on it get desperate 😉

    March 5, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  20. norm

    Brother Andre heart in Montreal was displayed for over 50 years, until it also disappeared in 2011. Never returned.
    For those who can see...watch for more mystery of the kind.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Jimmy

      You're a sick puppy Norm. I hope you get some help for your delusions.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Epidi

      Perhaps some nut has plans to Frankenstien the parts and try to bring them back to life – who knows?

      March 5, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I take it you're implying that the End Times are upon us.
      I'll keep my eye out for 7 headed dragons spewing torrents of water.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:08 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.