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. Steve the Goat

    hahahahahahahahaahahhaahahahaha. Silly jeebus freaks.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  2. Jeepers

    I bet whoever stole it is going to try to reanimate it and make a Super-Frankenstein with a pure heart, who won't turn on them.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Jeepers

      But the joke will be on them when they find that it was just a regular heart that was kept in conditions that allowed it to mummify.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Jeepers

      Which could only mean that their monster will, in fact, turn on them and then cause the conditions that will lead to the end of the world on December 21, 2012...just as the Mayans predicted. The first domino has fallen. There's nothing we can do now.

      March 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  3. Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

    It has at long last occurred to me that I am an ashhole. Please accept my humblest apologies for being one. I have decided to step back from CNN.com for the near future while I focus on my career as a cashier at AM/PM. Thank you.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Jebbus Santorum

      You're right Tom. You are an "ashhole." Now shove it up your piehole and let everyone else enjoy the page. Good luck to you and the gas station business.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Mike S.

      Good riddance, Tom the "ashhole."

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

      Tom, at least you can admit it. That's more than many others on this page can do. Be blessed and stop being an "ashhole" for your own sake.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Russ Danvers

      Guess you looked in the mirror at last, Tom. I recommend using Charmin to wipe your mouth- gentler and less rough, and a good, gentle shave for what you call your "mustache." ...Ashhole.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Jebbus Santorum

      @Russ Danvers: don't you mean his "mustASHe?" lol.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Herbie is mas tu rbating again. Poor little fella.

      March 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • herbie

      There is no herbie

      March 4, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, there's a herbie. He just can't get any dates except for Rosie Palm.

      March 4, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Kirk Cameron

      LOL! Poor litle fella! Hey Tom, you ever see the South Park episode where Cartman says that, in Billy bob's voice?

      March 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  4. 4F

    What a heartless act! Wonder if they will ever find the person with this blood on their hands. Will the beat go on until this heart is recovered? What do you do with a 900-year old heart? Do you give it CPR, or mouth-to-mouth, or direct massage? Do you add to the confusion with a blood transfusion?

    March 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • COWBOY

      Why, would anyone steal such a thing?

      March 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Al

      Why, would anyone steal such a thing?

      Maybe they got tired of seeing that creepy thing on the wall.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      4F asked,"what do you do with a 900 year old heart?" I couldn't help but hear the old Bee Gees' melody from "How do you mend a broken heart", so lets do a little Weird Al Yankovitch and we'll all sing "what do you do witha 900...."
      Oh well – it sounded great in my head!

      March 4, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • lala

      Or maybe, the thief had realised that it has higher market value than his rented couch. He/she must be an atheist.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  5. Jack

    Catholics do not "preserve" the relics, as by the use of formaldehyde or some other means. The heart simply did not decay. This "incorruptibility" indicates to Catholics that God has protected the heart from the natural cycle and the artifact is thus worthy of veneration. "Preserve" was a foolish and misleading choice of words by your writer, and it should be modified to better communicate the essence of the phenomenon.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • TR6

      Jack “The heart simply did not decay. This "incorruptibility" indicates to Catholics that God has protected the heart from the natural cycle and the artifact is thus worthy of veneration. “

      Does this mean they are going to start venerating beef jerky?

      March 4, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  6. Jerry

    These days when a saint dies they put their johnson in a box?

    March 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Zimbo Zambo

      Yes, and they call it the "Magic Johnson." Not to mention the relics belonging to Don Johnson, Johnson & Johnson, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Olsen N. Johnson, Van Johnson, and Howard Johnson.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Jeebus Mechanic

      @Jerry: it's better than putting their Johnson in a hole while they're alive.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  7. LouAz

    See what happens when men in dresses run out of the body and blood of their jeebus during their voodoo hoodoo doodoo ritual dinner. No wonder they want all women back in the kitchen. They can't even cook a two item snack !

    March 4, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  8. Dagaz

    Ritualistic cannibalism and the veneration of preserved of body parts... perfectly reasonable.

    March 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  9. Like It Is

    Maybe one of the new Nigerian immigrants ate it. That's what they do back home.

    March 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  10. Attila the nun

    Some people are so heartless.

    March 4, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • blablablathisthread


      March 4, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  11. *frank*

    Does it have a twitter account yet?

    March 4, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  12. GodsPeople

    You idiot atheists are so disgusting and stupid. you're so childish in your ignorance. Hurry up and die so you can start burning.

    March 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • GodsTrolls

      Nice one! *High Five!*

      March 4, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Patriarchae

      Are you sure it's not you whose the childish and ignorant one? Definitely seems like it.

      March 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • blablablathisthread

      Wow, your "all loving God" sure sounds like he loves ALL his children then! Go die and become nothing but worm food. AS WE ALL DO! You create a fantasy of "an after-life" because you are so afraid of death. We all fear death, but you of the religious cloth take it to the extreme of DENIAL!

      He who would require worship is not worthy of it, and that makes your God the most unworthy of all! Fact.

      March 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • DeAnne

      .... well, so much for godspeople...who is the hateful one? YOU ARE !!! People like You disgust me !!!

      March 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      just f-u-c-k-i-n-g die and burn. I knew earlier today if I clicked on this link I'd see more hate speech from atheist idiots. Just die.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Nick Swardson

      I hate haters.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      how would you inbred, retarded f-u-c-k-t-a-r-d-s feel if someone had stolen something that had deep significance to you? Of course, in order to do that, they'd have to steal you and NOBODY WANTS YOUR SORRY SELF ABSORBED A-S-S-E-S. now go die.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • blablablathisthread

      F-u-c- k you and your God, I DARE HIM TO SET ME ON FIRE THIS VERY SECOND!... I'm still waiting...

      March 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • JOregon

      I seriously doubt GodsPeople is a Christian. Just seems to be someone wanting to push buttons to get people fired up.
      I would suggest fly fishing or casting, trolling can be pretty boring.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Colin

      Perhaps, Godspeople, you should strap on a suicide vest and run screaming into an evolutionary biology class.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      Shut the f-u-c-k up and kill yourselves. Nobody f-u-c-k-i-n-g cares what you worthless, spineless, soulless atheists have to say. NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOU, NOBODY WILL MISS YOU WHEN YOU ARE DEAD.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Colin

      Hell is actually one of my favorite Christian beliefs. It is so absurd as to be a good “door opener” for Christians to question the supernatural nonsense they were inculcated with when they were too young to doubt it. Think it through. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to rob , I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is have an honest, legitimate and rational disbelief in the Christian god and he will impose a grotesque penalty on me, worse than the death penalty. And he loves me.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Jebbus Santorum

      @GodsPeople: and when the zombie apocalypse begins, you'll be the first to go.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • CrapSpot


      Nice coat! But Ateist's Mart have been putting it on sale but noone buying it still, because, it wears the TYPICAL atheist's odor.

      But I have good news for you, you are spotted by the CrapSpot! You are now officially a PIECE OF CRAP! Congratulations!!!!

      March 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • GodsTrolls

      Feed me!!

      March 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Go to bed, GP. School starts early.

      March 4, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • TR6

      Let me get this straight Christians take part in ritual cannibalism and vampirism and worship dead body parts.But it’s the atheists that are degusting?

      March 4, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • TR6

      @ GodsPeople:” I knew earlier today if I clicked on this link I'd see more hate speech from atheist idiots. Just die.”

      The only hate speech I’ve seen is from embarrassed Christians who’s religion has been caught in another absurd medieval ritual.

      March 4, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  13. 0_o

    They're doing a remake of Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom and needed the heart as a prop... but this time it's a catholic cult in Ireland!

    March 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  14. Mark

    let's see, a human heart, ordained "a saint" by a man, who was elected Pope... God doesn't recognize him...

    March 4, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  15. Janis Joplin

    come on, take another little piece of my heart now baby; you know you got it, if it makes you feel good

    March 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • big brother


      March 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  16. food

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

    Well what do you call cutting out someones heart, bottling it, and bolting it to a wall????

    March 4, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • blablablathisthread


      March 4, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • big brother


      March 4, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  17. koga

    Maybe it was a miracle. Perhaps the saint was so disguisted by the behavior of modern catholics he came and reclaimed it.

    March 4, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Lucy

      Actually, Christ Church Cathedral is an Anglican Church, so the question is why do they have a Catholic Saint's heart in the first place?

      March 4, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  18. *frank*

    A senile priest thought it was teriyaki beef jerky.

    March 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Russ Danvers

      A senile priest offered me some "teriyaki beef jerky" when I was 14. I recently sued his as s in court, and won.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  19. stanton

    Santorum took it and gave it to Kurt Cameron or they did it together there is very little heart between the two or none at all!!!!

    March 4, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Philip Billups

      I bet they ate it as Comfort food.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  20. Russ

    He was not using it so no big deal

    March 4, 2012 at 5:22 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.