A gold and crystal reliquary containing an ampoule with drops of blood of St. John Paul II was stolen from the cathedral in the city of Spoleto, Italy. According to Archbishop Renato Boccardo, a sexton missed the piece when he closed the church on Wednesday night.
The relic was donated to the Church of Spoleto Norcia on September 28, 2016 by the archbishop emeritus of Krakow, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. In October, it would be transferred to another church in the same city, dedicated to St. John Paul II.
– With surprise and pain we released this news. I appeal to the person who has done this to return the shrine to the cathedral and the faithful. It is a gesture of responsibility and seriousness. It is not by doing something like this that a person draws attention or achieves success, but rather respecting the life, feeling and devotion of each one – said the Archbishop.
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According to the archdiocese, the relic was in the Chapel of the Crucifix. The faithful cannot access the site, but they stop in front of a gate just over a meter high to admire Alberto Sotio’s cross and the relic of St. John Paul II. There was no alarm installed in the first part of the chapel, where the stolen object was, and it would be necessary to climb the gate to commit the crime.
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It is not yet known whether the reliquary was taken by someone who intends to ask for a ransom amount, which has already happened with other relics of the Catholic Church. On Saturday, a moment of prayer will be held in memory of the Holy Pontiff in the Cathedral. Police are investigating the case and are analyzing security camera images in search of a suspect.
John Paul II was Pope between 1978 and 2005 and canonized by the Vatican in 2014. Born in 1920 in small Wadowice, a city in southern Poland, Karol Wojtyla was the first non-Italian pontiff to hold office in 455 years. His papacy, which ended in 2005 with his death, brought vitality to the Vatican, but it is also viewed with criticism by liberal activists.