Skip to main content

John Paul II's blood stolen from Italian church

From Livia Borghese, for CNN
updated 10:02 AM EST, Wed January 29, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A bloody swatch of John Paul II's clothing is missing after a theft at an Italian church
  • Police will attempt to track the thieves across fresh mountain snow
  • The late pontiff's secretary gave the swatch to the church after John Paul's 2005 death

Rome (CNN) -- Missing: One small, round, golden container. Contents: The blood of the late, soon-to-be-canonized Pope John Paul II. If found, please notify Italian police and the church of San Pietro della Ienca.

Officers from the Carabinieri, Italy's military police, plan to comb the nearby mountains where John Paul used to vacation before his death in 2005, hoping to find tracks in the snow that will lead them to whoever broke into the church and stole the item over the weekend, Carabinieri Col. Savino Guarino said. But investigators are also searching for the relic -- which holds a square bloodstained piece of cloth about 2 cm (3/4 inch) -- all over Italy, he said.

The relic and a golden cross were the only things stolen from San Pietro, located near the city of L'Aquila in the Abruzzo region, church members said.

Pasquale Corriere, who helped restore the church, said the sanctuary was closed Friday and Saturday because of bad weather. Corriere suggested the thieves were looking specifically for the relic, since nothing else was touched -- not even the boxes that hold money for charity.

Pope Francis' peace doves attacked
Pope plans to visit U.S. in 2015

John Paul's former secretary, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, gave the relic to the church in 2011 "to thank us for all that we did" for the visiting pontiff, said Corriere's daughter Franca.

"I think it was stolen by someone very faithful to John Paul II," she said. "Really, I can't imagine who the thieves are. My only wish is that the relic is returned to us as soon as possible."

Guarino wouldn't comment on any possible motive for the theft. He said more than 50 carabinieri will be out searching Tuesday if the weather improves.

John Paul II led the Roman Catholic Church for more than 26 years. The church plans to recognize him as a saint in April, along with Pope John XXIII, who is revered for his role in the Second Vatican Council.

Man tries to sell stolen brains on eBay

CNN's Matt Smith contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 9:31 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT