March 6th, 2012
04:23 PM ET

Dublin cathedral pleads for return of 884-year-old heart

By the CNN Wire Staff

A cathedral in Dublin asked on Tuesday that anyone with information on the missing preserved heart of the city's patron saint step forward.

The 884-year-old heart of St. Laurence O'Toole was stolen over the weekend from the iron cage where it is kept in Christ Church Cathedral, police and the cathedral said.

"All I ask is that whoever took it would return it with no questions asked. It's valueless to anyone but the Cathedral and our community and the community of Dublin. We are grieving over this and are still horrified that someone should deprive us of such a special link to our past and to our Christian founder," the dean of Christ Church Cathedral and the diocese of Dublin and Glendalough, the Very Rev. Dermot Dunne, said in a statement.

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Police in Ireland are following leads from security camera footage with the hope of being able to identify those responsible for the theft, which occurred between 9:30 and 11 a.m. Saturday, the cathedral said. The relic was last seen at 10:30 a.m.

Detectives are asking anyone who visited the cathedral between those hours to come forward. Photographs taken then might prove useful.

The thieves probably entered through the main doors shortly after 9:30 a.m. and left about an hour later, the cathedral said.

Adding to the mystery, there was no sign of a break-in, police said.

Nothing was taken from the chapel other than the heart, although Irish media said gold candlesticks and other valuables were there.

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.

His heart has been on display at the cathedral since the 13th century, when it was a Catholic house of worship. It became a Protestant Church of Ireland church when King Henry VIII broke with the Vatican in the 16th century.

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.

–Journalist Peter Taggart contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Ireland

soundoff (411 Responses)
  1. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 9, 2012 at 7:12 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 9, 2012 at 8:20 am |
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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.