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. WeDon'tMatter

    OK, all done, the Christians don't seem to have a sense of humor on this solemn day for them so I shall remove myself and let them grieve for their loss. May your God answer your prayers and miraculously return the heart to its rightful place in that cage.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  2. Woody

    We're off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz......

    March 5, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  3. Crys

    Neil Young, please return the heart. It's just a wooden box, not a heart of gold. (hanging head in shame)

    March 5, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  4. Donson

    Maybe the Irish version of OSHA busted in and removed it. It’s got to be a health violation to have human remains on display in some sort of medieval contraption.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  5. Common Sense

    Try saying a off color comment about this to a Irishmen and see how many teeth you're left with afterwards?

    March 5, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • steve

      They are internet cowards, mad at the world and afraid to leave the glow of their mums computer in her basement.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • JBHedgehog

      The anonymous internet makes you brave my young padawan.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  6. WeDon'tMatter

    To be honest, I guess keeping a Saint's heart in a box is no more weird than keeping Napoleon's penis in a jar.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Crys

      Just had this weird idea of Jeff Dunham visiting that jar. You suddenly hear, 'Let me outta here!"

      March 5, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  7. Kate

    Most of these comments are just sick and in bad taste. The bottom line is that a Church was desecrated. Believe or don't, it was still a ridiculous crime committed against this church. You should all show a little respect.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • chief

      what about God being desecrated.... by those committing idol worship and pagan acts in His name?

      March 5, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  8. Pirate65

    WTH would you want an old dead guy's heart for? That's just gross and kinda barbaric. Get outta the dark ages, please.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  9. hippypoet

    its a miracle!

    or just a 15 min fame hunt!

    March 5, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  10. norm

    The relic was taken by angels. As the judgement is coming soon. This is part of the saving of humanity and
    passed away saints. there will be more disappearances..

    March 5, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Pirate65

      What kind of asylum do you live in? I hope they bring you medication frequently.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Kate

      I doubt angels would pry open iron bars and steal a relic – where in the Bible does it say that angels will come as thieves and steal relics?

      March 5, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Definitely Real

      That sounds right to me. REPENT!

      March 5, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • norm

      Angels do not have to justify their actions. They do as they please and not a soul can stop them.
      They are ensuring that sacred relics such as these will not pass through judgment.

      If you read the bible correctly.... God will not allow good christians past (Saints) or present to go through tribulation.
      That it is written ... it will be so.

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

    To We Don't Matter – Stalin promoted atheism, but that's ok, he and his regime only killed 20 million of his own people, just saying......

    March 5, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Communist leaders like Pol Pot and Stalin would not have been charismatic enough to gain converts had they not learned the discourse of dogmatic persuasion from religious inst/itutions.
      Pol Pot spent 8 years at a Catholic school in Phnom Penh and Stalin 5 years at a Russian orthodox seminary. Historians have noted their speaking and writing styles ape those of the Church in being 'declamatory and repet.itive, with liturgical overtones”.
      While they both sought to eliminate traditional religions from their kingdoms, they did so in order to divert the common man’s faithful fervour to their own cults of personality.
      As Karl Marx himself noted “Atheism as a denial of this unreality; has no longer any meaning, for atheism is a denial of God and tries to assert through this negation the existence of man; but socialism as such no longer needs this mediation...”
      They demanded blind obedience and obsequious submission from their followers. They tolerated no free-thinkers and enforced dogmatism – a trick they learned from their religious educations.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Definitely Real

      You're right Michelle, all atheists promote genocide! And all Catholics support the Crusades, inquisitions, and executions promoted by the Catholic church in the past.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • RZ70

      @Doc... I'm no great fan of the Catholic church, but blaming the Catholoic school system for dictators, is like blaming a mountain range for having snow. To get over the mountains, is pushed up by windws off the mounting, lowering the temp, and making snow possible. Those dictators were going to be what they were regardless of where they got their eduction.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I made that argument in response to all the Believers who claim that Atheism is responsible for those dictator's atrocities.
      Both sides of that argument are specious!

      March 5, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  12. Rich

    Maybe somebody needed it for some wichcraft, or a vodoo spell or something? Or maybe the antichrist is returning as a clone of this Saint? Or perhaps the aliens needed the DNA because he is a descendent of one of those which they created?
    Have any other strange relics or other artifacts been stolen recently?

    March 5, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  13. thepalinexpress

    Reblogged this on CathCon and commented:
    Incredible. I hope that the culprits are arrested, charged and serve due time in prison. But above all, I want to know why. Is it so that these people can use this first class relic to touch it to other items and then sell these relics and make money? That is one plausible reason.

    The other one, that there's a desperately ill person and those thieves stole it in hopes that it can perform a miracle. Stay tuned.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Pirate65

      A dead guy's heart isn't going to perform a miracle. WTH is wrong with your mind?

      March 5, 2012 at 9:31 am |
      • thepalinexpress

        I understand your POV. There are testimonies of healings and miracles with saint's "body parts" which is what is called First Class Relics. Yes, not my thing; if you look up on the "relics" topic (especially on eBay) there's lots of third-class relics for sale online.

        It is forbidden by the Church to sell First Class relics and Second Class relics. Here's a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relic.

        Thanks for stopping by!

        March 5, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Definitely Real

      Or, y'know, they wanted to take it just to mess with people who believe a dried chunk of muscle is magical.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  14. Mark

    Heart is tissue, so no part of it remains after 900 years, (not sealed in wood at room temp anyway) Maybe the little wooden container will be returned, full of condoms and other forms of contraception.!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe the thief was formally an abused child at the church, that seems likely.

    There is no god, so the only ones worrying about it are humans. This is a theft, and a violation of the law, but I'm sure the amount of police resources used will far outweigh the importance of the object stolen. The atheists in Ireland should feel cheated, their tax dollars being wasted on all this, (It's not like christian organizations pay their fair of taxes.) There are now 7 billion people on the planet, I don't think the church ever had answers, but now the mentality it preaches is destroying our future. VOTE THESE RELIGIOUS ZEALOTS OUT OF GOVERNMENT

    March 5, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Kate

      You are a sicko.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Mike

      There is no God? There isn't an atheist alive that can truly make that statement unless the atheist in question is all knowing. The best you could do to be believable is to say "I don't believe in God." and if thats the case, then its just that, a belief. The problem is that not believing in something does'nt make it untrue anymore than believing in something makes it true. I could easily say "I dont believe in paying taxes." but thats not the way it works...just ask Wesley Snipes. Saying there is no God does not remove your responsibility to Him. Take care, God bless! Mike

      March 5, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Definitely Real

      It's true, no one can definitively say that there is no God, but that doesn't mean that it is somehow reasonable to believe in one anymore than it is reasonable to believe that there is a hoard of invisible psychic ninjas living in your attic. (Or, if you prefer, the orbiting teapot analogy).

      March 5, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • steve

      Stalin was an atheist, China.....

      Oh and flesh can be preserved, do your science bro.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  15. Jim

    He has partly risen as promised

    March 5, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • GodPot

      Morning wood?

      March 5, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  16. Flim Flam Willo bam bam

    Maybe it was left in San Francisco?

    March 5, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • werthrough

      That was bad.. But kind of funny, lol!

      March 5, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Pirate65

      HA! That's funny. :0)

      March 5, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Crys

      I know that I shouldn't be laughing at something like that, but I have a serious case of the giggles now.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  17. ddrew78

    Ok. let me explain in simple terms how this whole Saint thing works. Let's say you live in NYC and you want the city to do something for you. You go thru all the proper channels to try to get it done (praying to God). Now, if your neighbor or good friend (the Saint) happens to play golf with the mayor every week, wouldn't you ask him (asking a Saint to pray for you) to put in a good word for you with the mayor? Of course you would. Hope it makes more sense now.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      About as much sense as most of the other nonsense posted here.

      In other words, none at all.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • chief

      wow that cleared it up.... so you just make up some voodoo tradition and candy wrap it with catholic jargon and then weave in some real doctrine and it makes sense..... it just goes to show how the catholic church stays in business, there are a lot of people that find it easier to just do what the church tells them instead of THINKING

      March 5, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  18. Bob

    This can be made fun of by non believers in relics; but the truth of the matter is, many miracles have come from relics
    of Saints. Unlike the magic garments and rituals of the LDS; the Catholic and Christian churches have had miracles that many have been witness to and are recorded throughout history.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Floyd Johnson

      Amazing. You have used an article on common thievery to declare your opposition to Mormonism. The Latter-day Saint beliefs are no more or less ridiculous than those of any other religion. Let them teach their doctrine of "family values" in peace.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Definitely Real

      Thank you, Bob. You're right, Catholicism does uses dead body parts to perform magic. I believe they call this practice "necromancy".

      March 5, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • chief

      great point bob and well put... it proves how people follow catholic traditions and voodoo pagan acts because they are dolts

      March 5, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  19. chief

    for all you catholics..... what part of keeping body parts is anything but pagan? i kinda dont remember ever seeing Jesus talking about it in a positive way.....

    March 5, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • steve

      I dont know either, but people keep ashes around the house. I have my father-in-laws for some reason...We put headstones to mark where bodies are and people go to those sites and sit above a skeleton.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not those of people who lived a thousand years ago and are unrelated to them. It's a bit different to think about a loved one whose remains are in an urn or a coffin than to pray to the decomposed relics of some supposed 'saint'.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  20. Austin

    Christ Church is the Cathedral of the Protestant Church of Ireland – not the Roman Catholic Cathedral.

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

      Dont go there...:)

      March 5, 2012 at 9:49 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
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.