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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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. Candy Bustanoby

    Well, their website says "take home a souvenier from Christ' Church!" Guess someone did exactly that.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  2. Doozer

    *** Casey

    It's weird.. and those of you have no desire to do anything but tear down the Catholic Church

    Casey, your church is a fraud.
    I have hundreds of examples, but i will give you two.

    1) You are not to worship false idols,
    yet every year millions go to the Vatican and kneel at the foot of the pope.

    2) You are to keep the sabbath holy.
    The sabbath is saturday. Why did your church change it to sunday ?
    You are now sinning with the blessing from the church.

    There is lots more, but why bother.
    You will somehow find an excuse to dismiss it.
    God gave you a brain, how about using it ?

    March 5, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • *facepalm*


      Do you really think the creator of then universe cares whether you worship him/her/it on a sunday or saturday? That would be one petty omnipotent deity!

      March 5, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Chad

      Matthew 23:9 Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven

      March 5, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • catholic engineer

      The Catholic church a fraud? Doozer, there are around 30,000 different non-Catholic denominations out there. I challenge you decide which one is THE true one, or A true one, or a PARTIALLY true one. Maybe it's just easier to condemn one church.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • clearfog

      Apparently, god gave neither a functioning brain.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • ajk68

      Nobody worships the pope.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • catholic engineer

      @Chad If you can call no man father on earth, then there must be no sons. Please explain to that to your Dad if he's available.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • PC

      Doozer: You criticize and mock what you don't understand.


      Casey, your church is a fraud.
      I have hundreds of examples, but i will give you two.

      1) You are not to worship false idols,
      yet every year millions go to the Vatican and kneel at the foot of the pope.

      No one WORSHIPS the Pope. No one prays to the Pope. Kneeling, bowing, etc. is a form of homage that is performed by many in the presence of Kings, Queens, and other dignitaries and does not indicate WORSHIP.

      2) You are to keep the sabbath holy.
      The sabbath is saturday. Why did your church change it to sunday ?
      You are now sinning with the blessing from the church.

      Observing the Sabbath on Sunday, the first day of the week, dates back further than Catholicism, Brother. Rather than take up my time, I refer you to : http://www.letusreason.org/7thad18.htm.

      There is lots more, but why bother.

      2 down, and 98 more erroneous examples to go> NEXT ?

      March 5, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • AJ

      @FacePalm: I think you just proved Doozer's point.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • chief

      re catholic engineer.... of the 30,000 non catholic churchs.... i would pick one that doesnt dismember the dead and the keep body parts as something sacred...... and where is that in the bible?>

      March 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • midwest

      Kneeling for the Pope is not WORSHIP. It's something one does to show respect and honor towards someone. It does not equate to worship.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  3. Snoop

    Also, Christ Church is NOT Catholic, so you can stop smirking there, as well.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • catholic engineer

      Catholic means universal. Jesus prayed that all whom the Father has given Him would be one. About 30,000 non-catholic sects destroyed Our Lord's desire.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • chief

      im thinking based on what i have read in the scriptures that the church wasnt intended to be a group of men wearing dresses that harbor pedaphiles, led by a man dressed up like a cross between lady gaga and liberace, praying to the dead, and praying to statues, and subverting the truth of Christ into a thought removing sect resembling a pig circus....

      March 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Crow


      What is it like to wallow in total ignorance? What you wrote is beyond the scope of understanding for any sane man.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • chief

      re crow.... and holding tribute and honoring the heart of a dismembered man via a religion is sane? nothing more than cliffs notes from the book of the dead

      March 5, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Crow


      Satanists are NOT pagan. They are officially a subset of the Judeo-Xtian religion. While you maty think you know "things", your knowledge of theological concepts seem be wanting. Even your chosen moniker shows great disrespect for my native American ancestors.

      March 7, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  4. Snoop

    Those of you who know nothing of relics or the various religions should probably just shut up already – I'm constantly amazed at how many dbags stomp all over people's faiths just to give themselves a hard-on.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • nik

      Idols (or what the church calls relics) are forbidden by their own faith. How morbid and twisted, anyway. However, remember, a positive claim (such as Jesus was divine) leaves the burden of proof on those making the claim. Religiotards have never been able to prove it. Religion is silly. It's from a time when man NEEDED to invoke the supernatural to explain things like earth quakes and thunder storms. Thank god we've evolved enough not to need a silly religion anymore. They're no more real than the tooth fairy or santa claus.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • chief

      the catholics call themselves Christian.... theres nothing scriptural about dismembering bodies and keeping body parts as something sacred for display.... its pagan

      March 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Snoop

      Well, apparently dbags like you who live to tear other people down are all too real. What a shame.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • chief

      snoop... what is scriptural about cutting up the dead and keeping parts as sacred relics.... ? and whats a dbag? is that some catholic term for those who disagree with you?

      March 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • .

      "Well, apparently dbags like you who live to tear other people down are all too real. What a shame."

      Pot meet kettle, kettle meet pot.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Crow


      As posted earlier on this blog there are many examp-les of the use of relics to perform miracles in the Bible. I would suggest reading the entire Response list before muttering inaccurate info about a religion that you apparently know absolutely nothing about. As a practicing pagan, I can say that pagans in general do not collect bones and hearts for veneration no more than Baptists sacrifice infants.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • chief

      re crow.... the term pagan was used in a general sense, it was directed at the groups that call themselves pagans, however, i do know and have known many pagans, from the dance around naked and get high and have fun to satanists.... cram your crystals where it doesnt shine..... and while your at it.... name the scriptural references to support digging out a dead mans for some purpose of honor in the bible..... your right, i didnt read all 17 pages... dolt

      March 5, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Crow


      Some studies have shown that uses of alternative healing such as crystals, acupuncture and Reiki are often more effective than modern medicine. However, I do not mix uo these new age techniques with pagan worship. I have bee known to tie a nice stone to a stick to protect myself from the ignorant. A bit of magic that my forefathers used effectively for hundreds of years and is still quite effective today. Also while my Circle does not practice ritual nudity, there is nothing wrong with those that do so.

      March 7, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  5. Jason

    Let it be known that, when I die, I give permission to anyone who wants it to preserve uvula in order to worship it's majesty.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  6. gf

    While some may think it gross, awful, strange, or whatever that this heart was saved in a box ... and somehow link it to their religious beliefs as in "only religious people could be so stupid" ... please consider first that even modernized, secular, non-religious groups keep body parts on display. Museums commonly keep body parts on display, be they mummified, or a science museum with a preserved part. Plasticized human bodies circle the globe to go on display in various positions for the 'amusement' of people.

    So don't single out one specific group. Rather, if you disapprove, the best you can say is that all types of people are crazy/stupid/weird for keeping such parts around. Me for one, I think it strange, but don't believe by any means it's specific to one specific type of people/group/religion.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  7. Dandy

    >> disappearance of the relic "truly awful and strange" <<
    Uh.. not to mention that keeping it in a box attached to the wall for a thousand years is pretty awful also..
    Catholics are an odd bunch. If you go to Italy and view the catacombs under the churches, many have guys buried in glass caskets shriveled and well it for all to see. But what the heck they are dead anyway .. I doubt if they would care.
    Still, it is really strange. Obviously this is nothing new, they have been doing it for a very long time. Good thing they didn't get Jesus' body.... 😯

    March 5, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • gf

      How is it different than keep the ashes of a loved one in an urn?
      Or a mummified person in a museum?
      Or a preserved organ in a jar?
      Or a plasticized human on display for amusement.

      All types of people do this ... and it is weird.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • chief

      re gf..... while i agree with you... it is different, they call themselves Christian but theres nothing Christian about keeping body part for memorial or display....

      March 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  8. Omar

    Catholics. LMAO.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • DJ Rush

      Sorry to disappoint the silly catholic bashing going on here, but this is a protestant church, not catholic.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • nik

      Both of them are just as silly as santa claus worshippers or tooth fairy priests.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  9. JIm

    Presumably fresh tissue after nine hundred years? I doubt anything remains in that container that resembles a heart.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Me

      Dust to dust.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  10. Carl

    I find keeping human body parts on display "truly awful and strange", not to mention rather ghoulish. Can one not bury the entire person yet still venerate his/her memory? How about visiting a tombstone at the gravesite or a establishing a permanent memorial in the church?

    March 5, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  11. Kansas

    It was the Tin Man from Oz!!!

    March 5, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • mparr22

      i thought the lion needed a heart??!

      March 5, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  12. Greenspam

    Some needs the heart of a saint.... check Santorum to see if he has stolen it.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  13. ralph


    March 5, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  14. ummmmmmmmmm

    some people have no heart

    March 5, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  15. EnjoyingLife

    Why do people that believe in the bible do these kind of idol worshipping? does not make any sense..

    March 5, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • sam

      Neither does the bible!

      March 5, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • chief

      they dont believe in the bible.... they worship religion....

      March 5, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • GraceG

      Catholics do not worship or idolize relics. I've copied some snips from the website "Catholic Answers" about the scriptural basis for this to shed some light:

      Keep in mind what the Church says about relics. It doesn’t say there is some magical power in them. There is nothing in the relic itself, whether a bone of the apostle Peter or water from Lourdes, that has any curative ability. The Church just says that relics may be the occasion of God’s miracles, and in this the Church follows Scripture.

      The use of the bones of Elisha brought a dead man to life: "So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet" (2 Kgs. 13:20-21). This is an unequivocal biblical example of a miracle being performed by God through contact with the relics of a saint!

      Similar are the cases of the woman cured of a hemorrhage by touching the hem of Christ’s cloak (Matt. 9:20-22) and the sick who were healed when Peter’s shadow passed over them (Acts 5:14-16). "And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them" (Acts 19:11-12).

      The veneration of relics is seen explicitly as early as the account of Polycarp’s martyrdom written by the Smyrnaeans in A.D. 156. In it, the Christians describe the events following his burning at the stake: "We took up his bones, which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together, as we are able, in gladness and joy and to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom."

      In the fourth century the great biblical scholar, Jerome, declared, "We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are" (Ad Riparium, i, P.L., XXII, 907). `

      March 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • chief

      the above post is catholic mumbo jumbo ... yet another wild stretch to introduce more nonsense as "religion"

      March 5, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  16. Dave

    Cathedral staff called the disappearance of the relic "truly awful and strange"...

    Ok, but the keeping of someone's heart in an iron box isn't strange? Only screwed up catholics could think this way. No wonder their sad religion will be dead and gone a few years from now. Good riddance.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • ummmmmmmmmm

      sounds like your heart is dead and gone already, good riddence

      March 5, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • David

      Dave, if you think Catholicism is going away any time soon, you're the idiot.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Omar

      Dave, although Catholics will be with us until the end it is important to know that they make the bible void by their traditions. The papacy was given its seat and authority by the dragon. They are nothing but wolves in sheep clothing.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Dandy

      Uh.. really? You need to study further. Check out Baptist rituals and Mormons... The further to the right, the nuttier the rituals.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  17. ropeadope

    Napoleon's penis: People have been fixated on Napoleon's penis since Napoleon's doctor allegedly cut it off during his autopsy in 1821 and gave it to a priest in Corsica. The penis, which was not properly preserved, has been compared over the years to a piece of leather, a shriveled eel and to beef jerky. In 1927 when it went on display in Manhattan, TIME weighed in, comparing it to a "maltreated strip of buckskin shoelace." It's enough to give anyone a complex! In 1977, a urologist living in New Jersey purchased the modern-day relic for $3,000 and stored it under his bed until he died 30 years later. His daughter inherited Napoleon's penis and has fielded at least one $100,000 offer.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1988719_1988728_1988695,00.html #ixzz1oG6QgcrL

    March 5, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • ropeadope

      I'm sure the heart will sell for at least $100 on eBay!

      March 5, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  18. Irish

    Christ Church is not a Catholic Church it is Church of Ireland (protestant)

    March 5, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Fupped DUCK

      What are they trying to do, confuse us?
      You just gave a Crsader something to do!

      March 5, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  19. realtalk

    Saving body parts..........grosse

    March 5, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • palintwit

      Not as "gross" as your spelling.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  20. Sheila

    Now Rush Limbaugh has a heart.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Kevin

      ...which he ate with fava beans and a nice chianti.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Orville

      Here is a perfectly good story about a rotting piece of flesh that is about 1000 years old being stolen, and you had to ruin it by bringing Rush Limp#ick into it? What he needs is a mind; forget the heart, he wouldn't know what to do with it.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:43 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
About this blog

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.