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. BigRed

    Catholic attendance at masses is down 98% in Ireland, meaning that almost no one is in those churches which often don't even have a priest assigned full time. That means aside from an occasional person praying, the churches are completely open and completely empty. No wonder someone without compassion or faith stole this relic which will no doubt find it's way to a rich collector, or squirreled away in one of the Vatican's hidden archives.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Thought you were about to say... "so many leaving the Catholic Church, that even the relics are no longer 'practicing'."

      p.s. no disrespect intended.

      March 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  2. Hoosier State

    Did they check on eBay for it?

    March 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Shellyb1968

      I swear I just thought the same thing when I read the headline.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Dario Contarino

      I did. Nope, so far.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  3. Schix

    Magic is not real. Grow up people.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  4. Crow

    While your take on relics is s0mewhat accurate, your distorted view of evolution is in direct opposition to RC teaching which now teaches that evolution is an accurate description of the process that God used to mold life from the clay.

    Man did NOT evolve from a monkey but rather he and the monkey are descended from a common ancestor that was neither monkey or man.

    Genesis 2 begins with a list of the order of creation which is in agreement with the same order of evolving life that science has revealed to us.

    The theft of this relic is nothing short of ghoulish and, if caught, the thief should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • momoya

      Anybody can interpret their chosen myth book in a manner that makes it appear to line up with solid facts. The bible led to no knowledge of the evolutionary process, and if all scientists regarded the bible's creations accounts as "factual," they would never have reached the fact of evolution. Science had to first DISREGARD the bibles account to begin to understand biological laws. We can all imagine a biological record that would verify the bible's account of creation much better than evolution does.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I have to disagree. The Bible's account does not agree with the evidence, it is out of order. Besides, morning and evening ocurring before the sun existed, birds show up before land animals, and fruit shows up way before flowering plants (flowers are generally required for fruit) among other details. The Bible is *not* a science text.

      I completely agree with your last sentence however.

      March 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  5. BigRed

    Have a little heart. Would you?

    March 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  6. Pan3

    Maybe it was the tinman looking his his heart. I mean really, who cares?

    March 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Everything in Moderation

      You don't need to believe to care. You need only to care.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Crow

      Who cares? 300,000,000 plus Xtians around the world care which puts you in a decided minority. Xtian and nonXtian alike should care that a sick psychopath is running loose stealing things from churches. Whether you believe in the use of relics or not, we should all be horrified at this act of sacrilege,

      March 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  7. jimtanker

    I guess that they can no longer worship that idol.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Now now, they "venerate" their icons and pray THROUGH the Saints, not to them.
      Let's face it – any religion that can worship a Trinity and still call itself monotheistic is capable of rationalizing anything.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      Yeah. They should obviously be using prayer towels in front of their televisions instead.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  8. Catholic_Bcause of _ Jesus

    @that one dude & Flamingo Kid

    1. Christ recieved money from people even a woman whom he deemed to be favored for giving out of her need and not her reserve. He taught us to give out of love for those less fortunate, The Church Continues to this mission and is evident when natural disasters strike India, China, Haiti, where ever no matter who(Black white Purple pink), no matter what(Muslim,hindu,buddhist) the church doesnt divide amongst People it Loves ,it helps, it heals. Has Mother Church had People who have made mistakes, Absolutley , BUt that should not cause a backlash at the church aside from maybe that the church needs to revise it's checks and balances to ensure those mistakes are not repeated. Christ chose a bad apple in Judas as with everything that happens bad God always finds away to bring out a good from it.

    The Bible does say to pray thorugh Jesus it also doesn't support Not praying through someone else. Jesus Prayed with MOses and Elija on the Mountain top though.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  9. Joe T.

    I wonder if the one priest there has the heart to tell them he lost it in a poker game.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  10. Isaak Greenwood

    Perhaps it was taken for use as a transplant to give to the current heartless Pope...

    March 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Dario Contarino

      Why do you say the current Pope is heartless?

      March 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Dario: Maybe because the current pope thinks that ra.ping children is okay...he is a heartless bast.ard and a criminal!

      March 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Dario Contarino


      I heard about that, especially on what I think also happened in Ireland. About 50 years ago an Italian poet wrote in a public speech more or less "we are living in a new dark age, a middle age of which we cannot yet distinguish the borders". I agree with that judgment, today more than ever. I understood your point and agree with it.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  11. littleBearFN

    Humm.. Usually the sign of a Saint is the 'body parts' are self preserved and is usual y accompanied by the smell of myrrh... Actively preserving or disregarding these signs does not make a Saint.... Am I right?

    March 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • face

      as i understand it, to qualify as a saint a miracle must be performed. often though, a body not decaying is taken as a miracle in itself. one odd thing though, I thought you had to be dead 100 years before being declared a saint

      March 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  12. King of Hearts

    When questioned about the disappearance, venerable actor Peter O'Toole replied "Hey, I married into this family , don't look at me!"

    March 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  13. Really???

    Well, to the ones that are wondering about the false idol thing, and how this seem creepy to have old human flesh hang around...I agree! The catholics also believe that Mary is a co-redeemer with Christ, basically saying that you pray to her, to get to a higher authority, but the Christ said " I am the way" not Mary and I will work together to be the way. Mary, the person who posted on here about doctrine vs. God is right on the money, seek God, NOT religion.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Burbank

      To top it off, Mary was never a virgin. That was a political decision at the Council of Nicea in order to control people, especially women. These churches still continue to teach and spread the BIG LIE to this very day. I guess they think they are exempt from following the 10 commandments. Absolute power corrupts absolutely!

      March 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Me

      "The catholics also believe that Mary is a co-redeemer with Christ," From a true Catholic aware of the Church's true beliefs to one who seems to have no idea what catholics believe, your statement is totally false, and totally contrary to Catholic Church teachings. Please don't comments unless you know the true facts. Mary never has been and never will be viewed by Catholics as a "co-redeemer with Christ".

      March 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "... Mary was never a virgin."
      Well, "never" is a strong word. I'm sure she was a virgin at some point.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • littleBearFN

      Burbank, You are incorrect. The 'Council of Nicea' which ultimately led to the split of the Catholics from the Orthodox church was with issue of the pops'e infallibility and the conception of Mary. The Orthodox church believes and always will believe Mary was conceived just like you and I. We also believe she conceived Christ as a Virgin. Wether or not she lost her viginity afterward is 'neither here or there' although we believe she maintained her virginity until her death.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Rainbows and Lollipops


      This is like debating the number and color of the buttons on Leprechauns' vests.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • littleBearFN

      "Rainbows and Lollipops," The events and discussions at all the councils are well recorded and historical. Your comments only proves your ignorance and for lack for the quest of knowledge. Eg. you are a d*mb@ss....

      March 5, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Rainbows and Lollipops

      "The events and discussions at all the councils are well recorded and historical."

      Yep, and they might as well have decided that there are 3 buttons on the vests and they are definitely brown. The 5-green-button people wandered off and formed their own clubs... each saying that the other will never find the pot of gold by believing the incorrect button-count.

      March 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "Your comments only proves your ignorance and for lack for the quest of knowledge. Eg. you are a d*mb@ss...."

      Sorry, but a lack of interest in the doctrinal minutia of someone else's faith hardly equates to a lack of a desire for knowledge.

      March 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  14. youthminister

    What the heck's the matter with all of you?!?!?!

    This is theft of a body of a venerated Saint. How about I come steal your grandmother's heart from her grave? Sick right? ... or how about I take a chunk out of the Western Wall in Israel (the most sacred site in Judaism)? Also screwed up! ... Or why not rip down chunks of the Dome of the Rock after attacking Mecca and Medina... Oh, wait, cause that would be a punk move too!!!

    What has happened to respect in this world? Seriously. This world is too screwed up! I work 24/7 for peace and a non-judgmental world, and those who oppose the Church are often far more closed minded than they accuse the Church of being. Did you know there are seriously progressive Priests who support gay marriage and that the Catholic Church was one of the first to profess that if you're gay it's because you were born that way? Did you know the Church continues to make steps toward modernize while maintaining it's values? Did you know it educates, clothes, feeds, and serves more people in the world than any other organization (at the cost of the Catholic people)... oh, and most of those we serve aren't Catholic.

    Lead, follow, or get out of the way. I'm leading... my Church is leading.....many others are leading..... stop whining! Either get in line or get the heck out of my way! If you don't want to help feed and clothe and shelter and educate all the people of the world, if you don't want to work for peace between all people, if you don't want to live in a world where every selfish person takes and takes and takes until there's nothing left for us because every kid grows up wanting to be the next Kardashian.... then shut up and get the heck out of my way!!!!!

    ...And by the way, most of you don't have a clue what you're talking about. ... This is where I'm tempted to post a few curse words, but the comment would get removed and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Theresa to those of you who don't really know how to say her name) taught me not to judge others. So here's an idea.... STOP BEING SO CLOSED MINDED AND JUDGMENTAL AND RETURN THE HUMAN BODY PART THAT WAS STOLEN!

    Don't bother replying to my post... I'm not checking this site again.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Joe T.


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

      Hah, what makes you automatically think it's someone who opposes the Church?

      Sounds more like an inside job from the article, maybe someone looking to make a quick buck from an antique dealer?

      March 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Derka Derka Stan

      So long... we heart-ly knew ya.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Thomas

      Why exactly are human remains being put on display to begin with? Saint or no saint, isn't it customary in most religions to bury the dead and not charge admission to gawk at them? You mentioned other folks grandmothers - would you cut out your grandmother's heart and place it on your mantle? I certainly wouldn't and my grandmother could very well be considered a saint.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Over It

      Don't bother replying to my post... I'm not checking this site again."

      Well, that just about says it all about you, then, huh? "LALALALALALALAAAAAA..."

      March 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Amanda

      Agree with you

      March 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  15. carlyjanew6


    March 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  16. Joe T.

    Did they question the bad guy from Temple of Doom yet?

    March 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • MIT

      Of course not, he died in the lost arc

      March 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Joe T.

      We dont' know if he died. He fell a long way into crocodile infested waters. No proof that he died.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      He was eaten by the crocodile, but emerged three days later.
      Living in a croc's stomach is no more or less preposterous than a whale's.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  17. darn

    come on guys! have a heart.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  18. AceRyder

    I'm guessing there's a woman to blame....

    March 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  19. Catholic_Bcause of _ Jesus

    It tickles me when those who have not opened up to the reality of God and those who have but in Mass expect to receive instead of searching to give which is what mass is all about a mutual giving of oneself Christ to us and us to Christ. its not about entertainment in order to feel the prescence of the Lord. And to non Beleivers im sorry but evolution makes no sense think of these 2 things without feeling like you have to voice a defense. 1. if humans evolved from Monkeys or whatever why then are there still monkeys and humans with evolution a creature has always become something new not a new and an old. 2. if we just became we know from life that one must be a baby prior to becoming an adult so how was the baby able to sustain without someone caring for it so obviously the bibles direction that God created a man would make more sense. Just Saying.

    THE VENERATION OF RELICS: a practice for today
    Fulfilling a human need

    When somebody dies, we often hold on to things that belonged to
    them. We wish to be reminded of those we loved who have left this
    world. We also treat their body with respect, and as Christians we
    recognise the human body as a dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit.

    We live in an age of ‘secular relics’. Many people prize this or that
    item that once belonged to someone famous. It might be a footballer’s boots, an item of clothing worn
    by a celebrity or simply something marked with a famous person’s signature. Catholics venerate relics of
    the saints because we recognise the contribution they have made to the Church and the world. The saints
    are not just ‘famous people’; they have changed the world for the better.

    Relics in Scripture
    The Old Testament records miracles associated with items which belonged to those who have died: a
    miracle was worked through the mantle of Elijah (see 2 Kings 2:14) and another through the bones of
    Elisha (2 Kings 13:21). In the New Testament handkerchiefs and clothing that had touched St Paul were
    brought to the sick so that they might be healed (Acts 19:11-12). Holy men and women – and things
    associated with them – became means by which God worked to help His people.

    From Scripture
    “Elisha took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying ‘Where is the
    Lord, the God of Elijah?’ When he had struck the water, the water was parted to one side and to the
    other, and Elisha went over.” 2 Kings 2:14
    “So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites used to invade the land in the
    spring of the year. As a man was being buried, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown
    into the grave of Elisha; as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he came to life and stood on his
    feet.” 2 Kings 13:20-21
    “God worked extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had
    touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them.”
    Acts 19:11-12
    From the Catechism
    “Besides sacramental liturgy and sacramentals, catechesis must take into account the forms of piety and
    popular devotions among the faithful. The religious sense of the Christian people has always found
    expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church’s sacramental life, such as the veneration of
    relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary,
    medals, etc. These expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it.”
    Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 1674-1675

    March 5, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Puckles

      Do you honestly think anyone is going to read your pathetic post?????

      March 5, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • meee

      wow this is biblical evidence, thanks taking your time and patience to post this...you represent christianity as it should, with love and patience as god wants us to be. thank you

      March 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • archived

      Clearly you don't understand evolution. Humans and monkeys co-exist because they aren't the same species! You can't simply say that humans evolved from monkeys, so there shouldn't be monkeys. Humans evolved from a more primitive species that shares the same branches of the genetic tree as apes today (btw, apes and monkeys aren't the same thing). If God is the simple answer to everything, why do we have fossils of primitive humanoids? What are dinosaur bones if there are no mention of them existing in the bible? Are these all just misleading tricks that God plays to see who is faithful enough to believe in him and not the facts? If so, God is truly not the same being described in the bible. Free will to believe or not believe is one thing for God to bestow on people, but active misdirection and geologic lies? That doesn't sound like the all loving, all caring being I learned about in catholic school.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Steve

      I hope no one believes everything in the bible. It is a book that was written by men for men. So using it as proof of anything is not right.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Thomas

      Adults evolved from infants. So by your logic, there should no longer be any infants in the world. The growth pattern is the same, only the timeline is different. Does this help explain to you why the two species can exist simultaneously?

      March 5, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Floyd Johnson

      As a fellow christian, I chuckled not only at your complete ignorance regarding the topic of evolution, but at your inclusion of your opinions following an unrelated article. You had some interesting points regarding relics, but I suggest that you stay away from science until an article is posted on the topic and you have a working knowledge of the subject.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • mike w

      "if humans evolved from Monkeys or whatever why then are there still monkeys..."

      If my ancestors came from Poland, why are there still people living in Poland?!

      March 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Really???

      The Catechism is not Biblical...the Catholic church is a universal religion, just like when Constantine allowed everyone to become a "Christian" but were told they could keep their other religiuos practices, all they needed to do is just had to say they are "christian". There are many "catholic" beliefs that don't follow the Word of God, like praying to Mary, not to make light of her use by God, but that's kinda like worshipping the envelope the lottery check came in.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Catholic_Bcause of _ Jesus,
      Did not one of your Popes say that, "...there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation..."? And, yet another Pope, more recently, recognized "evolution as more than a hypothesis?"

      1) Humans evolved from a common ancestor with, well technically all animals, but most recently we share a common ancestor with Apes and the reason there are still apes is because populations evolve not individuals, i.e. a group of genetically isolated apes evolved into something a little closer to human than previously. An analogy I heard is, 'America was colonized by the British and, yet, there are still British.'

      2) If you understand evolution you realize that every offspring is the same species as its parents, but the cu.mmulative change across mulitple generations means that the great... great^n... grand-children might not be the same species. And I stress *might*, becuase evolution is non-directed, species do not have to evolve, e.g. sharks.

      March 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  20. George

    Apparently peoples hearts are not in it!

    March 5, 2012 at 1:04 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.