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. Shelby

    Please have your facts straight so you know what you are saying and do not make yourself appear totally ignorant. No religion should be demeaned, especially if statements in the press are taken out of context. The Catholic Church does NOT worship body parts. In fact, only God is worshipped, not any of the saints. Saints are common everyday people who have lived extra-ordinary lives and could be models for us to help us to try to lead good lives, following their examples..

    March 4, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If that were the case, churches wouldn't be making blood or tears flow from statues or preserving decayed flesh as holy relics.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • JOregon

      Then why keep body parts?
      Why pray in front of statues?
      Why pray to Mary?
      Why, Why, Why
      Other than that, this practice of saving body parts is totally weird and is not established from ANYTHING in the bible.
      Perversions of men.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Casey

      It's weird.. and those of you have no desire to do anything but tear down the Catholic Church, or any religion for that matter, will just never get it. So... why don't you stop coming to the Belief Blog, and do whatever it is you do... The Catholic Church does not worship saints, or pray to Mary. If you really want to understand the Church, why don't you go there and learn. Otherwise, why don't you just go?

      March 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • JOregon

      Casey I am a Christian, and I understand the Catholic church quite well – yes they do pray to Mary. They do worship in front of statues and they are a church that is set up in rebellion with the guidelines set forth in the Bible.
      Those that oversee the church MUST have been MARRIED – not divorced because the training ground for running a church is being successful in running a marriage.
      1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
      The word Bishop (episkopos) means Overseer. In charge of the church. From the Pope to the Parish Priest. Amazingly the Catholic church doesn't allow marriage for these people.

      March 4, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • sheshie


      March 5, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • sheshie

      Shelby, you are correct!

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

      Read your Bible; The Son of the Living God said: Why seek thy LIVING amongst the dead?
      The dead or those who have passed on, needs ALL its God given complete "Body Parts" intact for their journey back home to meet their MAKER. Why some churches keep the body parts of some human beings they claim to be holier than thou to be worshiped after their death so as to con and swindle people into deceitful ghostly belief is primitively backward, religiously corrupt mindset ....... period! Let the dead rest with their complete body parts INTACT and the Living should move on. It’s a sham for the church to behave this way.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • rb

      JOregon...get your historical facts straight..you are Christian. The Catholic church is the world's OLDEST Christian religion. There is no separation. Catholics believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior..that is a Christian! Given that, I do not agree with many of the rituals they perform..which by the way is more cultural (to the ancient Romans). This is why there are so many people against Christians period. You think you understand the Catholic Church but you don't. Because of holier than thou, my denomination is better than your denomination business, this is why NON-DENOMINATIONAL churches have sprouted..as they should be. They rebel? What about the snake dancing Pentecostals? Give me a break. The Church is made of people. People are not infallible.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  2. AgrippaMT

    Soomeone crept into the cathedral and just stole his little heart away. It was probably that nun he had his eye on 900 years ago.

    March 4, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • TR6

      I think it was the brain from planet Arous. It’s collecting parts to build itself a whole body

      March 4, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      They must be doing the RIGHT on behalf of 900 yr. old heart to be finally attached to its main body and soul for its final journey home. We can't have a restless soul roving all over the place anxious to meet his Maker whilst some idiots deceitful decided to put it on display just to con folks for 900 yrs. It's about time someone stood up for the dead.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  3. RoccoP

    One should really be asking: what kind of a loony religion calling itself Christian, keeps body parts as objects to sanctify/consecrate their churches? That's ghoulish! There is absolutely no justification in the Bible for keeping relics and body parts of "saints" in a place of worship. This is heathen practice which has been disguised as Christianity.
    While you are checking in the Bible - look if you can find any reference to a special, elite class of followers of Jesus called "saints" - which one should pray to for various affairs of life (for instance St. Anthony for lost things, St. Peter for the weather, St. Florian for firefighters, St. Blasius, so one doesn't choke on a fish bone!) - no justification in the Bible whatsoever. Actually in the New Testament all who have put their trust in Christ are called "saints" - no special class!

    March 4, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Zimbo Zambo

      One should really be asking what kind of a religion are athiests for preserving the organs of every non-believing many executed by John Calvin ... oh wait, no one preserved those, and athiests don't have a religion... but John Calvin still executed people!!

      March 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Marie R.

      Here here. Could not agree more. If a regular person tried to keep a body part displayed in their home I think they could be charged with a crime, in Catholicism it's considered holy. Go figure.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • RoccoP

      To: Zimbo Zambo - sure atheism has all the attributes of a religio –, atheists have a blind faith in "Almighty Chance" (that chance with enough time can create order out of chaos) with a main dogma called "Naturalism" - which believes in the absoluteness of matter. Oh and they do collect even much more remains of their objects of faith than does the R. Catholic church and put them on display for the faithful - going into any natural history museum and you will find tons of fossils, bones, cadavers, mummies, etc.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • mel56

      If you've read the Old Testament, nowhere in if does it say to pay ties to the Church. They gave food and the Jews was the ones that started that paying ties to support the Churches. See what Jesus said about paying ties to support those Churches. {ST MATT 23:23 KJV] Christians don't realize that they prosecute Jesus when the claim he died for their sins and died so that they could be saved.That's Judeo satanic teachings by devil worshipper.Few people know that members of the "Nation Christian Order" of the FreeMasons are over the Christain Churches. FreeMasons worship Lucifer as God.{Isaiah 56:1 KJV]

      March 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • TR6

      Honestly, think about it, when have Christians ever followed the parts of the bible they don’t like?

      March 4, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      You tell me, buddy!
      It make me sick for the church to con and swindle people. There's time to mourn and grieve for the dead yet; in the same spirit and token, the dead wants to be finally be put to eternal rest for their souls to move on to the next world. You can't ascend to the next World without a heart. They will have NO Soul upon their arrival.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  4. Kurt

    Now the gift shop will have to pull the " I ♥ St. O'Toole's ♥ " t-shirts.

    March 4, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  5. Jack Pearl

    I really hope they catch the thief, because I for one would be very interested to know what possible motive he could have. Part of me suspects that drunken frat boys were involved.

    March 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Catch who? Get it together will ya?
      The church does not pay taxes so why should the police who are paid with tax payers money to be used to apprehend anyone with 900 -yr. old heart that should have buried with its main body 900 yrs. ago? It’s a waste of human resources in this time of needs. Do you know how many poor could be fed with those resources to apprehend the thieves? Its 900–yr. old dead heart for Christ sake and the poor and the living facing difficulties in life needs to be taken care off as Living Christians bestowed upon us to do God’s WILL when corrupt politicians and the greedy FAT cats won’t. Who knows the thieves must be doing the Lord Will by finally burying the 900 yr. old heart for eternal rest and peace.
      Remember this though. Jesus said: Your wish is NOT that of thy Father who's in Heaven. That said, your wish may be a dead wish in the making in itself.
      Move on and DO the God’s WILL for the helpless LIVING in your community unless those FAKE GOP Christians tells you NOT to!

      March 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  6. Johny Lopez

    The 900 year old heart survives intact because it is from a saint. There are complete bodys from saints that are still preserved by miracles. Google it.

    Atheis get really aggressive from reading this type of news. Feeling alone without God?

    March 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Zimbo Zambo

      Johny, you're hilarious. Great post!!

      BTW, they found Alexander the Great's member in a trash can last year, it's been preserved for much longer and it wasn't really that...great.

      I know that'll turn the heads of a few "secular humanists!" hahaha.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Zimbo Zambo

      did you know that St. O'Toole was the patron saint of plenty? Plenty O'Toole!!! hahaha.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ahahhhhhahaha! There are other complete bodies of saints? Sure there are. And if you go to the North Pole, you'll find Santa and his elves, too. Moron.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • just sayin

      Johny Lopez is correct, I recall that a recent popes body is now on displayin Rome because it did not deteriorate. John xxiii if I am not mistaken. Check it out.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • beaglelady

      Was the IceMan a saint? He was preserved...

      March 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • So What

      It is so sad that so many still believe this nonsense and even worse, are willing to commit murder and torture against those of different opinions. Maybe it is comforts those to think there is something "up there" watching over them. But "up there" doesn't exist unless their god(s) live on Mars or have a nice condo somewhere in Alpha Centuri. I suppose if these simpletons want to believe that human body parts have some value, so be it, but they would get the same benefit from cow, goat, chicken or for that matter a nice plate of spaghetti.

      Oh and quoting verses from your mythology proves nothing more than you've memorized it. Ancient Greeks had wonderful mythology and to my mind the stories were so much more interesting. Native American mythology is equally wonderful. What arrogance to think that Christian mythology is fact and all other mythology is, well, mythology.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • just sayin

      The iceman was carbon dated to about the time of Abraham. Unfortunately we do not know his beliefs, it is a possibility that the iceman was a believer/saint.We do not know one way or the other do we?

      March 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Casey

      @So What... what are you talking about? (I don't think you know.) If you want to hazard an opinion about something, it's usually best to have some actual understanding of it. So.... I suggest you go to the Church and learn. You have a very twisted and wrong view of what it is all about.

      March 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • just sayin

      If you did not have the Truth, how would you determine a lie? Without the true faith how would you know the myth? It is clear atheists cannot discern between the truth and a lie by the posts they offer naming idols and false gods.

      March 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Johny lopez..You have to be kidding...mummies are far older than your saints.. miracles?? god makes sure a body does not rot in a church but lets them starve to death in Africa....

      March 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Justsayin..iceman...do you think perhaps,, just a guess of course, that the ice preserved him...in a similar manner to the beef in your fridge....or maybe the cow the beef came from was also a saint?

      March 4, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • TR6

      So you’re saying that beef jerky and slim jims are miracles?

      March 4, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • TR6

      @just sayin:”If you did not have the Truth, how would you determine a lie? “

      Typical self deluded Christian. You insist that your 2000 year old book of sadistic fairy tales is true; but, conveniently cannot be tested or verified.

      March 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Oh please GROW UP! Will ya?
      These are ALL deceitful shams perpetuated by so-called Christian Churches. Read your Bible. The Lord is a SPIRIT and they that worship HIM MUST worship HIM in Spirit and NOT worship some idol saints.
      Tell us where it is stated in the Bible that when these saints were living, they ask you or Christians to worship them or any of their body parts when they are gone? I bet you can't.
      The 900 yr. old heart deserves a permanent, perpetual and eternal rest, and someone decided tom do just that.

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

      Holy Crap this is true! although not all incorruptibles were saints as one of Mussolini's friends is as well. check out the link it for howstuffworks very interesting indeed

      March 6, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    March 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Walker

      Tell that to the families of all the people your god killed this week.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • longtooth

      Will it give me a bigger meatpuppet?

      March 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • just sayin

      Natural disasters entered this world the same way disease did, through sin. Once unleashed sin like germs spread to guilty and innocent alike. God is not responsible for these things, sinners are.That is another score that will be settled at judgement. All those guilty of sin, those who have not accepted the Lord Jesus Christs atonement will be held to account for all the damage their sins have caused.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      No longtooth you are already a total pr ick.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Zimbo Zambo

      Neither is the Old Testament.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You're such a complete and utter fucktard, just sayin.

      Get a boyfriend.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • onehippypoet

      Tom, Tom the pipers son
      Stole a pig and
      A whole new perverted lifestyle began
      Tom, Tom a pig and a length of pipe
      At long last Tom, Tom
      Found its true love.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Marie R.

      I promise it makes no difference and I have living proof.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things

      March 4, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Casey

      @Walker... You're clearly an Idiot

      March 4, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Get Real


      Why is @Walker an idiot?

      If your god is all it's cracked up to be, it either caused those deaths and destruction, or it permitted them (even to praying segment).

      March 4, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Can't have it both ways, Casey.

      March 4, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • TR6

      @just sayin:” Natural disasters entered this world the same way disease did, through sin. Once unleashed sin like germs spread to guilty and innocent alike.”

      As I recall all of the natural disasters motioned in the bible are directly attributed to god and say the he specifically sent them.

      March 4, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Yeb, you bet your ASS it does!
      I got on knees months ago and prayed to God Almighty to help my son to get a better job than the one he has in these hard economic stressful times. Months later we got the bad news in the mail that he wasn't selected after his job interview. He was crushed and all lost hope as much as I did even though I have help a lot of friends or people I barely knew get decent jobs over the years. He has helped 4 of friends he graduated from College find jobs. I got my knees and ask God why has he forsaken my son when it comes with or in the interest of my son. And what the heck is my reward for the good I have done for others in need for over 25-yrs? The next day at high noon he received a surprising call that he's to report to work next 3-weeks. I have never seen him this happy.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  8. Babz

    This is the dumbest thing I have read in while. A 900 year old heart would turn into dust. They may have a taken a bov, but I assure you only dust was in it. So sad that the RCC worships created things instead ot the Creator Himself.

    March 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • alm

      bodies can be preserved , it's been done for thousands of years.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Jack Pearl

      It was most likely embalmed, or sealed in an airtight container.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Casey

      Catholics do not worship anything except the Lord God. I suspect you know this and are just whipping up anti-Catholic bigotry. OR... you just have no clue what you are talking about... and this fact doesn't matter to you so you spew whatever junk you feel like... as if your uninformed opinion matters.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Correction: Catholics are not SUPPOSED TO worship anything except...

      March 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  9. karlaporter

    Perhaps it ascended to heaven like Jesus' body.

    March 4, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Hey, I don't think you read or know the scriptures that well.
      FYI: Jesus ascended with ALL his body parts fully INTACT. Not only that; when he came upon a bunch of women looking for his body in an empty tomb; he appeared before them and ask them this: why seek thy LIVING amongst the DEAD?
      Can you take some lesson(s) out of this stated text?

      March 5, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
      • karlaporter

        Yes, I have read that.

        March 9, 2012 at 3:06 am |
      • karlaporter

        The only lesson I'm taking away is that people continue to dupe their own minds by believing in myths.

        May 21, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  10. hmmmm

    "As an atheist, having a Christian threaten me with hell is like a hippy threaten to punch me in my aura." – Josh Thomas, comedian

    March 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Lyn

      I would rather go through life believing there IS a God and to find out there isn't. Then to go through life believing there isn't a God ONLY to find out there IS.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Mmmkay

      @Lyn "Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." – Thomas Jefferson

      March 4, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, you do that, Lyn. Just shut up about it and stop attempting to force others to abide by your sick beliefs.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Zimbo Zambo

      @Lyn: what if the nonexistence of God meant that you could have enjoyed your life on earth SO MUCH MORE, but instead, decided to play it safe, and had a guilt-ridden, boring existence, believing in God? I for one, would feel totally gypped by the non-existence of God. On the other hand, if I didn't believe in God on earth, but chose to live as a good person, and to enjoy all aspects of life free from religious guilt, fear, or rules, and found out that the fundamentalist Christian God did exist when I died, I would look him in the face and say: "really? REALLY?! And you let all those billions of people be tortured and die (some of which you commanded in the Old Testament)? REALLY!?" and probably go straight to hell.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Zimbo Zambo

      @Lyn, and I'm assuming you'd also fold in poker if you were one card away from getting a 5-card straight, rather than take a chance of losing.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • AGuest9

      By taking Pascal's Wager, you would likely go to hell, if it existed, just because you weren't worshiping your god to worship him, but to escape punishment. Either way, you lose.

      March 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  11. Keefster

    You guys are just wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Funny, but just SOOO NAUGHTY! No toys for you this Christmas. 🙂

    March 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  12. Walker

    It might have been safer if they had left it in San Francisco...

    March 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Kurt

      That is too funny!!!

      March 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Best post of the day.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • beaglelady

      Ten points for that one!

      March 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Casey

      I left my Hat, at Sam Fram's Disco.

      March 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  13. hmmm

    What's "truly awful and strange" is the fact that the Catholic church is preserving and honoring 900 year old body parts of a man-appointed servant in the name of God.

    March 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Rob

      It's an Irish saint back 900 years ago. It's a big deal the Irish have only been at war with each other for about that long over religion and no atheist is going to persuade them.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  14. GodsPeople

    You atheists are evil and sick. I can't wait for you all to burn for your evil and heresy.

    March 4, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Brad

      You know, I've read that it is not God's will that any should perish. Do you want something that God does not?

      March 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      It's my understanding, that at the moment of judgement, when one refuses to know God, He will deny them as well, and cast them into the pit where they belong.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Walker

      In MY religion, it isn't heresy, so I know I'm going to be just fine. Just which religion is going to be used to determine who goes where? None of it makes any sense.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • longtooth

      That doesn't sound very Christian.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Posts by GodsPeople represent a form of the flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager.


      March 4, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Don't you have little children to lie to and scare, or whatever they do in "Sunday school"?

      March 4, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • TR6

      In heaven the righteous often walk along the battlements, look down into hell and rejoice in seeing god’s punishment being properly carried out in hell

      March 4, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  15. Mike

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

    LoL! Like keeping a friggin' 900 year old heart in a wooden box is normal.

    March 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  16. David Johnson

    It would be cool if they would start receiving postcards from the heart, from around the world.

    One church is said to have the foreskin of Jesus in their possession. This is very powerful juju.


    March 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Joe

      During the middle ages there were about a dozen churches that claimed to have the foreskin of the infant Jesus. One of them had "manifested" itself in the mouth of a famous Italian saint. Now there's a miracle for you....

      March 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  17. cutedog2

    Is it in Davey Jones' chest?

    March 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • William

      From Davy Jones locker?

      March 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  18. Kebos

    An act of god, perhaps?

    March 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  19. PIP

    Where is Jesus's heart? Floating in space?

    March 4, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Rob

      Jesus never went to Ireland.

      March 4, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  20. Norm

    Did they check with Tinman and Dorothy?

    March 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It was the Lion.

      March 4, 2012 at 2:29 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.