900 Year Old Heart Stolen

File this one under stories you don’t read every day:

The preserved heart of Dublin’s patron saint has been stolen from the city’s Christ Church Cathedral, officials say.

The thief would have needed metal cutters to prise open the iron bars protecting the wooden heart-shaped box holding St Laurence O’Toole’s heart.

Police believe it happened some time between Friday night and about 12.30 GMT on Saturday.

“They specifically targeted this, they wanted the heart of St Laurence O’Toole,” a church spokeswoman said.

“It’s completely bizarre,” she said, adding that valuable gold chalices and gold candlesticks were ignored by the thief.

The heart has been a major pilgrimage site at Christ Church since the medieval period.

St Laurence O’Toole was born Lorcan Ua Tuathail in Castledermot, Co Kildare, in 1128. He was appointed Archbishop of Dublin after the death of Archbishop Gregory in 1162.

He died in November 1180 in Normandy, France, and was canonised in 1225 because of miracles said to have happened at his tomb.

Exactly what one does with the preserved heart of a man who’s been dead for 900 years I have no idea.

FILED UNDER: Open Forum,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Exactly what one does with the preserved heart of a man who’s been dead for 900 years I have no idea.

    Pray. It is a common practice throughout Roman Catholic Europe to pray over the (supposed) body parts of centuries dead saints.

  2. @OzarkHillbilly:

    I am aware of that part. What I don’t get is what possible use it could be to the theives

  3. Patrick says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    “What I don’t get is what possible use it could be to the thieves ”

    Start their own Church?

  4. Not much comment on the robbery, but I have to say that if I ever met someone claiming to be named Laurence O’Tool, I’d suspect they were lying to me.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I was being a little bit sarcastic Doug, not towards you (I did not think you were ignorant of the practice), but the whole idea of keeping relics, which I find to be exceedingly weird. When I go to Spain with my wife I like to go the churches both large and small, as the architecture is always the best in town. And no matter how small a church is, inevitably it will have some piece of bone or lock of hair, or something or other (I would not be surprised to find toe nail clippings).

    Not to mention it is a little bit ghoulish.

  6. walt moffett says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Either hold it for ransom or sell it on the relic black market is a possibility. Sounds like a case for either Jules de Grandin or Stephen Strange

  7. John Burgess says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: You might be interested to learn that every single altar in a Roman Catholic church has a relic within it. Even traveling or portable altars. The presence of a relic is required for the Divine Service, i.e. Mass.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    I wonder if it’s connected to the 900 year-old heart for sale on e-Bay?

  9. Herb says:

    Better get Hellboy and the BPRD on the case. Sounds like the Illuminati are trying to open the gates of hell again….

  10. Tano says:


    the whole idea of keeping relics, which I find to be exceedingly weird.

    Lots of people keep little physical reminders, like a lock of hair, from loved ones, including from themselves at earlier ages.

    I have also heard that many people will take the dead body of relatives, pump them full of preservatives, and then stack them up, slightly below ground level, in communal weirdness centers.

    I don’t quite see how this is all that different..

  11. rodney dill says:

    I wonder if it was put on retainer by Rush to help with the sincerity of his apology.

  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    What could it be used for? Go watch an Indiana Jones movie then use your imagination. Old religious stuff is crazy powerful.

  13. John Burgess says:

    @Tano: Victorians, on both sides of the Atlantic, had an ‘art form’ that must have been the most macabre of all times: Hair pictures. They were designs made from the hair of the dear departed and glued down onto boards and then framed. Or, they were made into jewelry like brooches and pendants.

  14. civilwarman47 says:

    Heaven forbid that it might have been taken to use in a satanic ritual

  15. rodney dill says:

    …anybody check with the Tin Man?