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. Kirk Cameron

    I'm tellin you all! These heart was 900 years old because it belonged to NOAH in the ARK, not to some Captholic hooby jooby saint Plenty O'Toole! Noah lived 900 years, and sum change!

    March 4, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  2. NaySay

    Oh don't blame the Vatican. In the Middle Ages, it was very common to have all sort of repulsive relics from saints - and most of them were quite phony. Many of them are still stored somewhere in the many Catholic churches that survive. There must have been a lively business in this sort of thing: milk from the Virgin Mary, splinters from the "True Cross," - the Shroud of Turin is just one of thousands such "holy" objects someone made some money from.

    March 4, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Don't forget the "holy" tortilla!

      March 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  3. Abeo Pectus

    Take Heart!

    March 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  4. Rose

    It's a MIRACLE!

    March 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  5. james

    What a heartless thing to do.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  6. cat

    You all KNOW Cheney took it...

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

    Ummm – the Vatican resurrecting a MAYAN ritual? Let's hope it was 'harvested', AFTER the guy died!
    And, what has happened to their belief that the body is the 'temple of the Holy Spirit'?
    and, where are the rest of the guy's remains?
    Too many unanswered questions here, folks. Ghoulish – me thinks.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      LC B, yep, that's 4 sure.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  8. Chuck Steak

    BOLO (Be On Look Out) for Tin Man, possibly accompanied by a teenage farm girl with scruffy dog. Seriously though, when the parishioners finally catch up with the mope who did this, I suspect there will be a new relinquary in the church toilet for an important part of the Unsaintly Mr. O'Tool-less!

    March 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  9. Ken Ham

    I don't believe in 900 year old hearts, but I do believe in talking dinosaurs that had sharp teeth but ate leaves and walked around with Noah and his pals, who all lived AT LEAST 900 years...that is, before the flood. But, nah, that Catholic stuff is all the seeds of the Antichrist. 900 year old hearts? Maybe 900 year old hearts of SATAN!

    March 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  10. God doesn't like religion

    Santorum had it stolen. He sits in the dark and rubs it like a magic lantern and asks God for another win over Romney

    March 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • LC B

      ROFL . . .!!!!

      March 4, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Jebbus Santorum

      that's not the only thing he rubs in the dark.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • God doesn't like religion

      Jebbus.....Santorum has hairy palms.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Jebbus Santorum

      God doesn't like religion: Dammit, you revealed the name of his running mate!! Rick Santorum/Harry Palms 2012!!!

      March 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  11. donna sophia

    Wondering if the first person to ever pilfer a heart, for purposes of display, was deemed mentally unfit. Now, looking from the spiritual side to our side, only to wonder if his mental condition was hereditary. How many think this is just so gross?

    March 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • LC B

      Mighty gross, for sure – but – believers of that cult system do and believe some mighty weird stuff – in the name of their god, and their redeemer, and their holy spirit(s)! Tolerance – they help us learn and practice that quality.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  12. Kirk Cameron

    Hey guys, my mom's so dumb, she uh, wait. Oh crap. Maaaam! Where's my piiiieee? You get your bi tch as s back in the kitchen and make me some pie!

    S crew you guys, I'm going home.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      "Kirk Cameron" = angry gay smacking the group's newest pinata.
      Gay pinata party-goers: "but this pinata's kinda cute! When we break him open, what kinda "candy" will come out???"

      March 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Kirk Cameron

      B4BigBang: excuse me son, but you need to start beleevin in Creationanity. It's your only hope.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  13. b4bigbang

    Oh 4F did it again! "Will the beat go on...?"
    Sung to the tune of "And the beat goes on" (what – Sonny & Cher, right?).

    March 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  14. Pawn Star

    what's the street value for a 900 year old human heart?

    March 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Jebbus Santorum

      when 900 years old YOU reach, look as good you will not, hmm? heheheh.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Depends on whether it's sold whole or divided up into dime bags i figure....

      March 4, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Todd in DC

      McDonalds now has a new secret ingredient for their McRib sandwich. You can be that that heart will get several million dollars to McD's stockholders.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  15. Muneef

    The Vatican.....!

    March 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  16. Case Of Apport

    Logically, the heart may have been apported. Since there was no sign of a break-in, etc. this is the only explanation for what may have happened. Metaphysically speaking, Apport means to remove from one place to another usually by spiritual means. I get the sense that the saint may not have wanted his human heart used as a display object anymore and simply reclaimed it by apportment.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Jebbus Santorum

      I prefer to use the term, disapparated.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Really?

      where is the "logic" in that

      March 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  17. Philip Billups

    Whoever stole it should give the heart to James Dobson or Tony Perkins. They could use one, between them, provided they don't eat it.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  18. James

    Okay, not sure which is creepier, that someone would steal a long dead heart, that is effectively useless except to some collector of the weird, or that the Catholic church had that on display.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • ATLmatt

      I think it is creepier that the catholic church harvested this heart and had it on display for so long. With no evidence of a break in, perhaps someone finally acquired some sense and disposed of it.

      March 4, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      I'd say the latter. IMO it's creepier to venerate dead bodies. (weird Cath Cult).

      March 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  19. Kristal


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

    Obviously a CEO or Investment Banker, in need of one.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • jules

      high five to s.surrell

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


      March 4, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
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