Saint's ancient heart stolen from Dublin cathedral
DUBLIN (AP) — Somewhere in Ireland, a burglar has the heart of a saint.
Officials at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin said Sunday they're distraught and perplexed over the theft of the church's most precious relic: the preserved heart of St. Laurence O'Toole, patron saint of Dublin.
O'Toole's heart 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. On Saturday someone cut through two bars, pried the cage loose, and made off with the 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."
Ireland's national police force, the Garda Siochana, said detectives were studying hours of closed-circuit TV footage to try to identify the approximately 40 people who walked out the cathedral's front doors Saturday morning.
The force said the thief may have hidden overnight in the cathedral and fled with the heart when its doors opened Saturday. Worshippers didn't spot that the relic was missing until Saturday afternoon. Nobody was arrested.
Nuala Kavanagh, the cathedral's director of operations, said whoever stole it appeared to have no interest in financial gain, since several nearby objects made of gold and other precious materials were not touched.
"It's completely bizarre," she said. "They didn't touch anything else. They wanted the heart of St. Laurence O'Toole."
Church services went ahead as normal Sunday. The trickle of tourists visiting the Viking-era cathedral weren't told of the theft. Many approached the O'Toole chapel and spent much time looking, confusedly, between their guide books and the pried-open box.
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