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. marsmotel

    I stole it and then I ate it. Who cares.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Joe Hill

      "I stole it and then I ate it. Who cares." You will, when it comes bursting out of your chest shrieking "Vengeance!"

      March 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  2. Bible Clown©

    Probably stolen a long time ago and nobody wanted to admit they were guarding an empty box. Now they can just forget about it.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  3. Eat me I am GOD

    I'm really upset that it wasn't a brain that was kept in the box. "Isn't that the first thing the catholics remove on all of the religious Nuts"

    March 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Kurt Cobain

      Maybe the box was full of religious Nuts.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  4. mike w

    Catholics are creepy. Drinking the blood and eating the flesh of their savior and storing human hearts and other body parts of saints. That and all the pedophilia.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Duh

      Catholcs are creepy? Do you realize that most Christian religions drink the blood of Christ (wine) and eat the body of Christ (bread)?? Do some reseach before you spout ignorant opinions.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • mike w

      Never heard of Transubstatiation, have you Duh? That's exclusively Catholic. Who is ignorant now?

      March 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • mike w

      And it is creepy when other Christians do it to, just more creepy for Catholics. Catholics believe the wine and blood literally become blood and flesh – other faiths use them symbolically only.

      I'm so glad I gave that creepy death cult up.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  5. TisJustMe

    The veneration of relics is a morbid practice, one that is unsanctioned by Christianity and very much of this Earth, veering dangerously close to idolatry. Churches that engage in such practices should know better. The remains of the Saints, of any human being, deserve to be shown respect and put to rest intact.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  6. qwerty

    Marisa has it wrong: intentional preservation is indeed used for the relics of saints. While miraculous preservations are sometimes reported, more often the body part is dried out or otherwise made long-lasting by human intervention.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  7. Nathan

    Catholics are weird. Why on earth would you keep a 900-year-old heart?
    Kudos to the thief, though. Break into a church with a crowbar without leaving any signs of a break-in, take a priceless relic, escape without anyone noticing. Seriously, pathetic security.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Catholics are weird. Why on earth would you keep a 900-year-old heart?" If you pray to it, it will cure your cancer but only if it likes you.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  8. Josh

    Probably someone gave it, finally, a descent and respectable burial.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  9. Meh

    Some sick monkeys stole a dessicated piece of a corpse. That's not news. It's just sad. However, if the heart floated out of its container on its own, sucked the eyeballs from a couple of security guards, then raised the rest of its body to lead the zombie hordes, maybe you've got a story. Add in naked cheerleaders and it's gold.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • TisJustMe

      CNN must be saving that part for tomorrow's update to the story. The mass media – so many stories, so little news.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  10. teddog

    What is 'truly awful and strange' is that the heart was hanging up there in the first place

    March 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Josh

      Yep, exactly.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Joe Hill

      I've been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  11. islam=tyranny

    it was probably those darn Muslims

    March 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  12. Tommy Chong

    Hey man, check this out man. Here, smoke this....
    What is this s.h.i.t man?
    Just smoke it man......
    Ok, if you say so man….
    (toke toke toke)
    This is good s.h.i.t man, what is this man?
    It is St. Laurence O'Toole's heart man! You just smoked a dead dude man! Ha ha ha
    Hey that's not funny man! Oh man I just smoked a dead dude. Damn man, that’s not cool!
    Chill out man…..this will help you to heaven and s.h.i.t man….
    Oh, yeah man….yeah I guess that’s cool. Pass that over here again man!

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

      Well done!

      March 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  13. mary

    When will people stop thinking that doctrine and the belief in a creator, God.. Are the same thing?
    Doctrine is that which people "think" God is, was and wants..
    There are many doctrines...Which are opinions, interpretation.. Of the bible and the interpretations and beliefs of others who have others that believe the same way. Formed a group.. Called RELIGION
    The 'priority' is in, NOT denying God ..
    Find your way from there..
    Too many look at organized religions, the differences in opinions about God and what he is and wants. And think its all B.S.. based on the differences in interpretation..
    That is the wrong reason to disbelieve in God.. You can disbelieve in some ones interpretation 'religion' ..But never stop seeking the truth..
    The bible says "seek and you shall find"
    Those that decide there is no God because of the things they see being done in the name of Religion are denying God because of the beliefs of some.. They can be wrong about what God wants, while not being wrong there is a God.. .
    So seek God first.. Worry about the differences in doctrine less.
    While seeking God you will find the answers.But you wont if you decide there is not God because you don't like how some interpret his word.
    Religion is an opinion..

    March 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Blake

      Religion is not a group, it is the belief in something you were told to believe. Because you were told this is the truth, you blindly believe it. "God's word"? Don't have to go far for that. He [supposedly] talked to very few people; Adam, Eve, Noah and Moses. He didn't even speak to Jesus, you know that guy who was tortured and murdered while his father stood by and did nothing? To save our souls? Don't think so. Any diety could do that without killing his son. Remember, Apollo, Zeus, Poseidon and all those gods were real also until they became outdated and people woke up and found that it is man who creates gods, not the other way around.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  14. Marisa

    "Catholics often preserve body parts from saints, believing they should be venerated."

    This quote from the author is extremely in accurate. Catholics do NOT "preserve body parts from saints," rather they are preserved by miracle having nothing whatsoever to do with human intervention. Secondly, It is far more likely that a saint's entire body to be on display, many centuries old. Irresponsible reporting from mainstream media outlets...whodda thunk it?

    March 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Marisa

      that should have read inaccurate not in accurate

      March 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Why Not


      Why don't they store these 'relics' out in the middle of St. Peter's square, then?... out in the sun, wind, rain and snow? True 'miracles' wouldn't need any protection from the elements.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Joe Hill

      "This quote from the author is extremely in accurate." You are the one being inaccurate. It's very common for a finger bone or heart or skull to end up representing the whole saint, and for people to think these relics have healing power. Boxes like that are called pyxes; normally only the box is seen and not the ugly bone or mummy meat.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  15. svscnn

    Heeeee's baaaaaaaaaack.

    There's a new zombie in town, and he don't cotton to no other zombies, no matter who they 'say' they daddy wuz..

    March 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  16. Eat me I am GOD

    Anyone ever think that there is a "Not so smart" Irish kid out in the back yard with his pants half-down to his knees , a high-volt battery charger and a half crocked smile on his face for a few mins, Making that poor old heart go THUMP-THUMP-THUMP........

    March 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Bingo bango

      What??? Even for a troll you are indeed a turdly little oddbucket

      March 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  17. clearfog

    Maybe it escaped.

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

      Wouldn't it be AWESOME if the evidence actually showed that the cage was opened... from the INSIDE!

      March 5, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  18. edge

    Wow, that's kinda creepy. Not the theft, but the fact that the Catholic Church sees a reason to venerate human beings so much that they would keep their flesh like this.

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

      "truly awful and strange" I would argue that the keeping of Saints body parts is "truly awful and strange". It just creeps me out that somewhere, someone is worshipping St Peters...peter. And they say traditional peoples religions were barbaric and strange!

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

      So, do the various "non-catholic" mummies (e.g. Egyptian, Chinese, etc.) creep you out too?

      Just curious.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  19. fred

    What happened to the false idol thing?

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

      Idolatry is to worship something. Veneration is to regard something with great respect.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • islam=tyranny

      that has always bothered me about the catholic church, they seem to more cult like and materialistic in there beliefs

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

      It's a very fine line binny, I frankly don't see much of a difference.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • TisJustMe

      It has been renamed "American Idol" and turned into a TV show. Bow down before the boob tube, baby!

      March 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  20. jk

    Clearly, it rose from the dead and left its tomb. We should blindly worship it and patiently await its return.

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

      There is no need to pokle fun at others' beliefs. WE patiently await your apology.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Over It


      “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”
      ― Thomas Jefferson

      March 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
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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.