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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. Randy

    This isn't a Catholic church. Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin is run by the Church of Ireland, the Irish version of Anglican.

    Anyway, it's all a crock of sh!t so wake up and free yourself from this nonsense.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • JT

      Catholic Schmacolic....

      March 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  2. Woody

    Some Fava beans and a fine bottle of Chianti are all that is needed now......

    March 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Flower

      I KNOW who YOU are. I remember you and your twisted self from another discussion. Do you have an obsession with Fava Beans and Chianti? Stop changing your name.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Puckles

      BURN BABY BURN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      March 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • ThatOneDude

      If by changes things you mean "wastes a portion of your life," then, sure, it "changes things." If that's not what you mean, then you might just be a cretin.

      March 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  4. Joe

    It will turn up on eBay any day now, with the disclaimer that they are only selling the box, not the relic. The relic is a gift...

    March 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  5. countrycook

    It needed to be buried 900 years ago.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  6. Damo

    Don't you understand? The heart got up and left! IT'S A MIRACLE, PRAISE JESUS!

    March 5, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  7. CandyBee

    Even the website for this church proudly advertises "TAKE HOME A SOUVENIER FROM CHRIST CHURCH"

    So, apparently someone did. Maybe they should be looking in the neighbor's "refuse."

    March 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  8. bobmc

    what a heartless event.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • bobmc

      Mary Shelly is loose in dublin

      March 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  9. kerry

    no sign of a break-in. Except for the wrenched open bars on the cage! The doors to the church were probably wide open, like they normally are.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  10. SophieCat

    Oh, you Christers. Always up to some shenanigans or another. "Displaying" a person's heart for 900 years is just as kwayzee as "Stealing" a person's heart that's been on display for 900 years.

    Jeez.

    No, really, I meant, "Jeez, get your peeps under control, can'tcha?!?"

    March 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Nah

      Another gratuitous anti-religion comment. What a surprise.

      If you dislike religion so much, why do you feel a compulsive need to comment on it everywhere you go? After all, if there is no god, and this is the only life people have to live, shouldn't you be happy that some people have already found solace here on earth?

      March 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • ThatOneDude

      If you silly religionists weren't trying to cram your irrational delusions down everyone else's throats all the time, we would happily ignore you and whatever immature "solace" you find in fairy tales. However, you have a tendency to try and vote in demagogues, deny people their rights, fly planes into buildings and shoot doctors, just to name a few of the atrocities your type is guilty of. So, yes, we are going to continue to belittle and mock you until the day you become decent members of society or the power of your little belief clubs are completely neutered.

      March 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Nah

      that: "However, you have a tendency to try and vote in demagogues, deny people their rights, fly planes into buildings and shoot doctors, just to name a few of the atrocities your type is guilty of. So, yes, we are going to continue to belittle and mock you until the day you become decent members of society or the power of your little belief clubs are completely neutered."

      The irony in your response is astounding, really.

      First, your argument is akin to calling all African-Americans criminals because some African-Americans commit crime. Trying to pin religious atrocities that occurred in other countries 500 years ago onto modern Christians is beyond absurd.

      Second, your criticism about voting "demagogues" and ideologues into office is irrelevant. Why? Because atheists do the same. Liberals do the same. Conservative do the same. Every person who has a political opinion and advocates for some legislation wants to "force" their views onto the rest of society. Namely by forcing everyone - under threat of law - to do or not to do something.

      Now since you're an atheist deep thought is, of course, foreign to you, but try to keep in mind that fallacies do not make sound arguments.

      "So, yes, we are going to continue to belittle and mock you until the day you become decent members of society or the power of your little belief clubs are completely neutered."

      My my. So open minded and tolerant. tsk tsk.

      March 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  11. NauticalMan

    Seeing that Rush Limbaugh lacks one, perhaps he is the culprit? Now, if he only had a brain.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Dave

      Freedom of speech!

      March 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  12. Jim

    Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral, it should be noted, is NOT a Catholic Church. It is Church of Ireland. The Catholic Cathedral in Dublin is St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  13. DJL

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

    Man in tin suit observed leaving the scene...

    March 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  14. Bill

    The Tin Man did it! If he didn't he's a good suspect. Go ask Dorothy.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Dave

      I tried. She couldn't answer, she had a mouth full of straw!

      March 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  15. Heart warmer

    A heartfelt thanks goes out to writers of this heart wrenching story. It is truly a heart-breaker. As I heartily read through some of the heartless comments here coming from the heartland, I must say that many of you appear to be brokenhearted. I hope that you can find a change of heart and not be heavyhearted about this. Now go have yourself a hearty lunch and don't get heartburn.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • LD

      You aren't funny.

      At all.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Heart warmer

      Looks like somebody could use a heart emoticon. ❤

      March 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • B.

      pretty freaking funny actually!!!

      March 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • The Flamingo Kid

      HaHa

      March 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  16. gelbkreuz

    That is some phat lewt. Anyone know what boss dropped this? Give it to the MT. Looks like Str or Stam bonus.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Mephisto

      I am the boss who dropped it! You need mad MF tho to get it.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  17. s miller

    I I think it's ironic that so many non-believers, and even more specifically non-Catholics would even click on, and read the entire story. I also find it odd that those who flee religion as a whole, or cling to an odd moral relativism where we should "coexist" are so unwilling to do just that. As a Catholic, I do cling to my faith. I am thankful for my Church history, the legacy and the examples...all positive and negative. If you disagree with something you don't understand, I pray you may one day understand. If you insist on bashing something because it's what propaganda tells you to do, I pray you one day find a truth. And finally, If you ignorantly argue something in contradiction of your own "can't we all get along" set of ideals, I pray you find both. Have a blessed day!

    March 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • rb

      Great post.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Brandon

      I find it odd that people bash Catholics and Christians day in and day out but not a peep on Islam.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • pointless1

      Really, after all that has come to light in the last decade with priests and little boys you're thankful of it's history?

      March 5, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • ThatOneDude

      Not a peep on Islam? Perhaps if you try removing your cranium from whatever orifice it is currently lodged in, you might discover the fact that you apparently don't have a clue on what's going on around you.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Over It

      Brandon,

      You haven't been around here much, have you? Islam is roundly bashed by Christians, Jews and non-believers quite a bit when something is in the news about them. This is an American website, and Christianity is just the most pervasive religion around here.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • JFarm

      Why is it ironic that an atheist such as I would click on this post? Religion is important throughout history, but since I don't believe I should ignore? That is a pretty narrow mind frame... oh, wait... That makes perfect sense now!

      March 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Damo

      "I I think it's ironic that so many non-believers, and even more specifically non-Catholics would even click on, and read the entire story."

      If someone stole L. Frank Baum's corpse, I might read the article about it.

      That does not mean that I'm fool enough to believe that The Great And Powerful Oz is real.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Merc

      How is it ironic that I find this story fascinating and grim enough to click on it?

      I'm intrigued by the concept of 1. Preserving and displaying a person's heart for 900 years and 2. Someone actually stealing it.

      Unless you only wish to hear from your own flock, in which case, CNN should probably implement a religious quiz before allowing people to read these articles...open minds need not apply.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Therese

      Thank you! This is an excellent post. Took the words right out of my mouth (well fingers)!
      You have a Blessed Day too!

      March 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • JT

      People read these type stories out of morbid fascination. We can't believe it's 2012 and you cults still exist and practice voodoo and all. If there were a large insti-tution that still believed the Earth is flat it would be equally incredulous.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Puckles

      It is hilarious to read about the Catholic Church and what buffoons they are! Call it "entertainment" if you will.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  18. Realist

    I had no idea that Catholics save body parts/fluids like this.. it's just.. creepy.. even more creepy than Christianity itself.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  19. Jean

    I am a Catholic. and I agree that keeping a persons body is kinda creepy. 900 years ago though it was like a side show. every church had so and so's head or tooth or heart. Most of this side show like showing of organs and the like were fakes made in hope of converting people. Catholics do not pray to Marry and the other saints we pray THREW them. like asking your mom to make your dad take you to the park as my priest said a few weeks ago. We believe that after you die you do not just retire from your work as a christian, it continues but you now have the ability to do more. clearly a saint cant do anything with out Gods say so but with his say so the can help people who ask for their help. St Terese is my patron saint, i chose her because of her humility every day i wake up and try to remember her. then I ask her for her guidance in humility. I don't worship her, Mary, or the other saints. I don't worship my mom ether but when i know my mom or dad or siblings can help ill asked for advice or guidance. It makes more since to me that we will have more duties in the next life instead of less. the bible says it wants us to serve God with all our mind, body, and soul, and use our talents to help others find him. why would we have to stop when we are finally free from our sinful body? seems like we would have more to do then to me.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • J.W

      I pray directly to God. I don't feel I need any intermediaries.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • ThatOneDude

      Look, it's all made up. Whether you pray to a deity, or ask some dead person to talk to your deity for you, it's all just a delusional set of rules made up to give you some comfort and to leech money and power from you. I can tell you, as an ex-Catholic, explaining the idea of a saint is useless. Most of your fellow theists will just continue thinking that you are worshiping saints. And any non-believers will continue to think that you are fooling yourself.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Over It

      ThatOneDude,

      Spot on.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • The Flamingo Kid

      Stop lying to yourself. You DO pray to Mary and Saints. The only one that the Bible commands man to pray "through" is Jesus Christ.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • ThatOneDude

      The Flamingo Kid,
      Stop lying to yourself. The whole lot of you are just praying to figments of your own imagination. Pretty pathetic.

      March 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  20. no nothing

    i don't have the heart for it.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
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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.