Authorities believe the thief intended to sell the reliquary
ROME — The relic of St. John Bosco that was stolen during the night of June 2-3, 2017 from the Salesian Basilica of Castelnuovo d’Asti in the northern Italian region of Piedmont has been recovered, the Italian newspaper La Stampa has reported.
The sacred relic — a vial containing a piece of the saint’s brain, was recovered by Italian law enforcement near Turin, from a person already known to the police.
Investigators hypothesized that the man (in his 40s) believed the reliquary contained gold and had planned to sell it. The police also found shoes which correspond to the footprints left inside the basilica at the time of the theft.
A story with a happy ending
When the disappearance of the relic was announced, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin said he was shocked by an act he said revealed “profound moral destitution.” In vain, he called on the thief to “immediately restore the relic.”
The relic will soon be restored to its rightful place, once the investigation has been concluded. The faithful and devotees of the patron saint of publishers, magistrates, and schoolchildren will then once again be able to invoke his intercession before his remains.
St. John Bosco (1815-1888) devoted his life to the education of young children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Imbued with the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, St. Jean Bosco formed and educated young children through gentleness, trust and love.
For boys, he founded the Oratory, which would one day become the congregation of Salesian priests. For girls, he founded the congregation of Mary, Help of Christians.
St. John Bosco suffered great opposition. Several attempts were also made on his life, including a near-stabbing, bludgeoning and a shooting. He died at the age of 72, on January 31, 1888.
St. John Bosco was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934.