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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. chief

    maybe someone in the church thought it was time for a change of heart ........... ha ha .....

    March 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  2. GoatBoy

    @Alien Orifice
    Do be a do bee yes a doobie would be nice 😀

    March 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • deniz boro

      It may be an intrusion but I do not mean it to be so. I am Turkish and am born Muslim. I only want to say to you that you should not blame each other for one bad intended person. As things go, it seems the thief had a stronger belief and need for this relict.

      March 6, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Mahir Çağrı

      The heart is being used for a special edition of Slim-Jim

      March 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  3. bagpuss

    I'd just like to point out -in the light of all the anti-Roman Catholic comments below- that Christchurch Cathedral is an Anglican (Church of Ireland) Cathedral. The Church of Ireland is a sister church of the Episcopalian Church in the USA, and is therefore Reformed and Protestant- not associated with Rome. The relic was associated with the first Irish-born Bishop of Dublin (at the time a Viking settlement), who is considered the patron saint of Dublin. Laurence O'Toole died in France in the C12th. It is unlikely that the relic is in fact the "true heart" of the real man, but it is an important symbol of the history of the city, and the pre-Norman church. It's theft is a great shame, and is one of three similar thefts in the past year.

    March 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  4. Mia

    Doesn't anyone else realize that that isn't a real heart! Our physical heart doesn't look like the hearts we draw.

    March 6, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • me

      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.

      March 6, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Mahir Çağrı

      I heartily agree

      March 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  5. Tim

    I think it's the rapture

    March 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  6. jon

    Lead suspect is a TIN MAN!!! He was last seen with a Girl, her dog, a scarecrow and a lion.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  7. WorldPeace999

    Probably the strangest thing that I'll read this week. That heart is being used in some Satanic Rituals.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  8. Old Songs

    Brings new meaning to the song "I Left My Heart In San Francisco."

    March 6, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  9. Ken

    900 years ago there weren't pedophiles and back in that time span things were sacred! We have mummies in Egypt don't we, so whats the problem? You all are nut cases and you need to get your heads out of the sand! I'm Irish, but not Catholic and there are some people that keep ashes from their relatives and/or loved ones so again, What is the Problem?

    March 6, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • chief

      why didnt you dismember your relatives and put their body parts on the mantle? do you honor them and think they are going to give you a miricle? the catholics call themselves Christian do this pagan type stuff when there is nothing scriptural about dismembering a person and setting up body parts as sacred relics............

      March 6, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • chief

      hey ken there were pedaphiles back then too... try reading the new testament.... they didnt call them peds, they were called popes

      March 6, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • momoya

      @ Ken

      Your first claim is so obviously stupid that nobody should care about the rest of what you say.. If human child sacrifice was around 900 years ago, it's safe to assume that pedophiles were as well..

      March 6, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • chief

      re ken.... try reading corinthians... it in the new testament.... it contains something that describe the early church.... its not something you get front chanting stuff to mary

      March 6, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Hannah

      What are you talking about? Your claim that there were no pedophiles 900 years ago is backed up by....what, exactly? Scientific studies? Of course there were pedophiles 900 years ago, and 9,000 years ago. Just as there have always been thieves and murderers.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • mike flynn

      pedophilia and pederasty were much more common in the distant past. pederasty was part of being in upper class society in roman times and earlier. clergy, being of the upper cklasses, had wives and boys on the menu.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 6, 2012 at 6:12 am |
    • Jesus

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      March 7, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  11. chrs

    No one could say that this was a 'heartless crime'.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:39 am |
  12. Josh

    Christians are good at finding things..hell they found a god that doesn't even exist..I am sure it will turn up.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:55 am |
  13. Hom tanks

    Uhh is anyone else thinking about the Da Vinci Code right now?

    March 6, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • chrs

      No.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:39 am |
  14. SueEllen

    Catholics are in league with the devil! It's no surprise that pedophiles would keep something like this.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Grey

      Do you always make asinine, baseless comments like this – or is it only in regards to religion?

      March 6, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  15. Non-christian

    The heart must be having a day's out. "THE HEARTS DAY OUT" lol. I think we dont have to worry about the heart as it seems that the heart is not real human heart. But if it is real why it not inside a coffine???

    March 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  16. nylescota

    I'd be willing to bet that 900 year old heart is delicious

    March 5, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  17. Sir Vertual

    What in God's name is wrong with people?...and it's obviously not a recent condition, as it's obviously been affecting folks for 900 (900!!!) years!...WHY IN THE WORLD...WHY?...would anyone keep some dead-ass heart (in a cage, no less!) for any amount of time?...MUCH LESS nearly 1000 YEARS!...THIS IS PLAIN OUT SICK TO THE CORE...GET A DAMN ROCK OR SOMETHING!?!...but leave people's body parts alone (unless the dude had a donor card in his wallet)...FREAKS!

    March 5, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Sir Vertual

      I really should ad ONE MORE THING...'Organized' religion is one of...if not the 'most' dangerous and destructive 'things' that MAN has ever invented....If you have a spiritual belief...GREAT!...I applaud you...the deeper – the better...but when you organize with groups of others, discuss your rules, burn people at the stake, cut-out body parts, etc, etc...you're in a damn cult...so, RUN AWAY..RUN AWAY...make sure you have your wallet...BUT BY ALL MEANS: RUN!...

      March 5, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Lewis Keseberg

      Why do people ritualistically eat flesh and drink blood every week? People are weird ... and they don't think.

      Although some people just like the taste.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • C. Edwards

      You sir are ignorant.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:51 am |
    • TING

      If you're keeping a 900 year old heart and someone steals it, you don't go public with the information. You handle it internally. Now the world knows what freaks they are. It sounds like it was an inside job anyway.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • chief

      re c edwards... instead of that venomous retort that people are ignorant.... try explaining any biblical support to dismembering the dead and keeping body parts or blood as a religious relic? and dont give me that crap about the woman touching the edge of Jesus garmet or elijah....

      March 6, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  18. Reality

    Only for the newbies:

    Just another case of the following:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of life. No "saint's heart, relics, koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • C. Edwards

      You are ignorant. Someday my friend. Trust me, you won't die like a dog.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:53 am |
    • Jerry

      Are you saying that Reality will not be euthanized?

      March 6, 2012 at 2:36 am |
    • Jimmy C

      Ugh C Edward just get a new line. "You're ignorant" is unoriginal and tired. Beisdes it makes you sound ignorant, like a parrot who only knows one sentence.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  19. Ernest

    This gives me hope. Maybe my hear will leave it's cage someday, and find a friend :3

    March 5, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  20. Dave

    Wonder what that thing smells like? Whew!

    March 5, 2012 at 9:15 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.