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. Pete D.

    It is amazing that people will blindly follow something that is NOT fact-based and manipulatively forced onto children, such as religion, and dismiss fact-based thing such as science...wait a minute...I forgot, they are not that intelligent.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • EpicFail

      I am truly puzzled. Your statement "I forgot, they are not that intelligent." I am sure this is your attempt at humor. We all know you can not "forget" something that is a general statement such as that. To paint such a faded picture about a group of people is truly sad, let us forget individuals like yourself that assume a "group" of people are just one sided.

      I cant not imagine the hate your must harbor for the simple things in life, if you choose to hold any group to any one page of life. Oh wait, now I am just like you. Assuming I know something about "they (you)" and your intelligence...

      March 5, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Garrett

      Religion=Epic Fail

      March 5, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  2. Lady Stevens

    Well well... Here I am a Christian agreeing with an Atheist.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  3. DYBO

    Better keep an eye out for it on Ebay.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  4. Manny

    Rick Santorum took it home to spend the night with his family.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Kathe Chappell

      @ Manny,

      That is a truly awful comment.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Pete D.

      Very funny...but he's not smart enough to pull it off!

      March 5, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  5. Devil

    Hannibal Lecter ate it with fava beans.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  6. dunno_in_the_usa

    Maybe the saint wanted it back... bumbum... bumbum... Second coming nearly upon us? lol.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  7. Jim D

    Too bad the culprit didn't get away with it about a month ago, this would make a great Valentine's Day present if you were dating a Catholic chick.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • WeDon'tMatter


      March 5, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  8. William Demuth


    I absolutely LOVE this!!!!

    Put it in a bong and smoke it!!

    Destroy this cult one icon at a time!

    March 5, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • justageek

      Sure. Let's take away something that provides comfort for the majority of its members so we can get back at the few whack jobs who use it for their own agenda. Pfft.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Rob

      such venom on here against those who hold up someone as venerable for having lived a godly life

      March 5, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • William Demuth

      Godly life?

      In my eyes thats grounds for execution

      Leave your cult beliefs in the dark ages where they belong

      March 5, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  9. slupdawg

    She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak: I've been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks...

    March 5, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  10. WeDon'tMatter

    This old heart of mine, been stole a thousand times
    Each time you steal away, I fear you've gone to stay.
    The empty box that's left, memories that flow, who'll bring you back again,
    Will hurt me more and more.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 5, 2012 at 8:52 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 5, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • just sayin

      Studies mentioned have been proven false for some time now, For wholesome results study God

      March 5, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • WeDon'tMatter

      OK, we know for a fact that the Christian religion has waged many wars and killed thousands of people in the name of their God, how many wars have the atheists waged? Now maybe your statement should be revised just a little.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • thumpz

      Sure glad we're not relying on scientific studies from the 1800's. Scientists had other real scientists murdered for saying the world was round just a couple hundred years ago... Just saying... you shouldn't believe everything so called scientists tell you...

      March 5, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      In the same way 'rain dances' affect the weather.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • justageek

      "how many wars have the atheists waged" – None? But given enough time any extremist could start a war.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • WeDon'tMatter

      OK, I'll change it for you, Religion is not healthy for children and other living things, when atheists wage wars and burn women alive for a test then we can change your statement back.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  12. Some dude in Atlanta

    From some of the comments here, it appears that it's recess time at the asylum.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      There are indeed a lot of people here who have conversations with invisible beings and ask said beings to bend the laws of space and time to grant their wishes – and we all know that's just insanity!

      March 5, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • captain america

      This godless pos Doc Vestibule is a butt in canadian and should be considered as less than dog sh it by all true Americans. There's your sign

      March 5, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • justageek

      "and we all know that's just insanity!" – And you don't think believing we just appeared from nothing in some big bang is suspect as well or you just accept that we truly do not know?

      March 5, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Catholic Church considers the Big Bang Theory proof of the Genesis account of creation.
      I take it you disagree?

      March 5, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • justageek

      I don't really know so I cannot agree or disagree. The idea of being created by a God or from nothing in a big bang is completely beyond my ability to reason through any facts. Theories are up to the individual to believe or not and I don't believe either theory gives us a definitive answer. So to say one is right or wrong is only an opinion that has no merit. An Atheist is as funny to me as a religious person.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @ captain azzhole: why do you follow him around like a bitch in heat, then?

      March 5, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I too am agnostic when it comes to the origin of the universe, as well as abiogenesis.
      I am neither a theoretical physicist nor a biochemist, so I haven't the capacity to properly interpret the data.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Some dude in Atlanta

      Doc, I was referring to YOUR POV. If you are so smart, tell us oh wise one, what existed before the "big bang"?

      March 6, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  13. Reasonable

    Cathedral staff called the disappearance of the relic "truly awful and strange."
    Yet apparently keeping a 900 year old heart in a wooden box is reasonable and normal.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Mike

      There's just no accounting for taste, is there.

      March 5, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  14. jma58

    This shows how ridiculous the catholic church is to keep a human heart. It goes along withthe rest of the voodoo practiced by religious groups.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • WeDon'tMatter

      Yep, if all of our religious leaders were more like Jim Jones this kind of stuff wouldn't happen, of course the price of Kool-Aid would skyrocket.

      March 5, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  15. coder

    what is it with christians and body parts?


    March 5, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  16. JT

    I have baby Jesus' foreskin if anyone's interested.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Anita

      Then show it to an atheist!

      March 5, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • JT

      Why an atheist and not all un-believers such as Jews and Muslims? They're all equally bound for hell wouldn't you say?

      March 5, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  17. manyote

    Eat your heart out, J. (drumroll and rim shot!)

    March 5, 2012 at 8:25 am |
  18. Daniel

    according to the expert on Pawn Stores, catholic relics have absolutely no value other than the religious aspect of it

    March 5, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Dave

      that was an awesome episode of Pawn Stars, but according to the expert they cannot be valued because of the religious aspect, not that they have absolutely no value. On a personal level – it's a 900 year old organ, what good is it to anyone?

      March 5, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  19. J

    Catholics are a strange lot.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • Michael

      It is a protestant church, not a catholic one

      March 5, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Atheist

      Did you even READ the article, Michael? It very specifically says, "Catholics often preserve body parts from saints..." That and Ireland is a Catholic country.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Lady Stevens

      Michael, Protestants do not believe in the saints. It's a Catholic church.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Redhead

      It is a Church of Ireland cathedral which means it's a Protestant church. Dublin has two Protestant cathedrals, Christ Church and St Patrick's.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  20. Doc Vestibule

    Peddling relics used to be a lucrative career thanks to passages like Acts 19:11 that says Paul's snotty kleenex has magic healing powers.
    If anyone is interested, I have John the Baptists toe nail clippings available for a very reasonable price.
    Cash only, no refunds.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • captain america

      Keep you and your bull s hit in canada and out of America, we don't need it here. Go screw yourself Doc V. President George H W Bush tells us atheists are not patriots and should not even be citizens of America, that make you less than dog sh it to US. There's your sign.

      March 5, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Awwwwww – who is a cute troll? Cappie is the cutest troll!
      Would you like a troll treat? Yes you do! Good boy.
      Back under your bridge now.

      March 5, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Atheist

      Wow, Captain. Claiming that someone who has a different theological disposition than you (or none at all, for that matter) is un-American? Sir, having a different opinion is the MOST American thing about us. Let's not mix religion and patriotism, for the two most surely do not go hand-in-hand.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Wave the maple leaf and watch captain lame-o howl.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:27 am |
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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.