[QODLink]
Europe

Relic of Pope John Paul II's blood stolen

Theft of cloth stained with blood of the late pontiff sparks region-wide hunt by police.

Last updated: 27 Jan 2014 17:24
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The relic contains a drop of blood of the late Pope John Paul II [Reuters]

A religious relic stained with Polish pope John Paul II'sblood has been stolen from a church in Italy, sparking a region-wide search with police and sniffer dogs.

The church was closed because of a snow storm. When we went to reopen it, we saw the bars on one of the windows had been sawn through. The thieves entered that way, and stole the relic.

Pasquale Corriere, head of the San Pietro della Ienca association.

It was stolen on Saturday from the San Pietro della Ienca church in the mountainous Abruzzo region in central Italy where the pope, who died in 2005, loved to go on skiing holidays.

Contrary to previous media reports, the relic is not a vial of blood but a framed, tiny square of cloth stained with the pope's blood, Pasquale Corriere, head of the "San Pietro della Ienca" association, told AFP news agency.

The cloth, which reportedly comes from the robe the pontiff was wearing when he was shot in an assassination attempt in 1981, is enclosed in a gold and glass circular case.

"The church was closed because of a snow storm. When we went to reopen it, we saw the bars on one of the windows had been sawn through. The thieves entered that way, and stole the relic," Corriere said.

The framed cloth was given to the small church in 2011 by Stanislaw Dziwisz, a cardinal who served as John Paul II's personal secretary until his death in 2005.

"I have no idea who could be behind such a terrible theft," Corriere said.

According to local media reports, some 50 police officers and sniffer dogs are sweeping the area, famed for its weathered stone houses and the little church where the head of the Catholic Church once reportedly took refuge in a storm.

Corriere said there are only three vials in the world containing the former pontiff's blood.

John Paul II and the Italian pope John XXIII are set to become saints in a ceremony at the Vatican in April, an event which will substantially increase the value of the stolen relic.

The Polish pope was nearly killed in an assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981.

385

Source:
AFP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Anti-government secrecy organisation struggling for relevance without Julian Assange at the helm.
After decades of overfishing, Japan is taking aim at increasing the number of bluefin tuna in the ocean.
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
join our mailing list