Thieves made off with a highly unusual item from a church in Dublin, Ireland: the 900-year-old preserved heart of a saint!
Members of the Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin said Sunday they're upset and more than a little confused over the theft of the church's famous religious relic: the preserved heart of St. Laurence O'Toole, patron saint of the city of Dublin.
The heart of Saint O'Toole had been displayed in the cathedral since the 13th century. It was stored in a heart-shaped wooden box and secured in a small, square iron cage on the wall of a chapel dedicated to his memory within the cathedral. Sometime on Saturday, someone cut through two iron bars, pried the cage loose, and made off with the priceless relic.
"I am devastated that one of the treasured artifacts of the cathedral is stolen," said the Most Rev. Dermot Dunne, the cathedral's dean. "It has no economic value but it is a priceless treasure that links our present foundation with its founding father."
The Garda Siochana, Ireland's national police force, are currently reviewing hours of closed circuit television footage taken outside and within the cathedral in the search for the body part thief. Authorities believe the culprit could have hidden inside the cathedral overnight and left with the heart when the church doors were opened early on Sunday morning for parishioners to attend morning Mass. Church services went on as scheduled after the robbery was discovered.
O'Toole was Dublin's archbishop from 1162 to 1180 and gained a reputation as a skillful and compassionate mediator between rival Gaelic and Norman factions then fighting for power in Ireland. He died at the age of 58 while traveling in Normandy on a peace mission. On his death bed he was said to have declined to make a will, claiming not to have a penny to his name. He was canonized as a Saint by Pope Honourius III in the year 1225.