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The stolen heart of St. Lawrence O’Toole is back on display in Christ Church


Janet McKnight | CC BY 2.0

J-P Mauro - published on 11/22/18

Nearly six years ago, the relic was removed and carried away for unknown reasons.

The heart of St. Lawrence O’Toole has been returned to Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral, where it was quickly returned to a state of permanent public display. The relic of the patron saint of Dublin was stolen in 2012 in a crime dubbed “bizarre,” as the thieves ignored several valuable golden chalices and candlesticks from the altar in favor of the heart.

The heart, which had been on display since the Reformation, was contained within a wooden, heart-shaped container and was further encased behind an iron-barred cage. The parties responsible for removing them were not identified by the Gardaí — the police service for the Republic of Ireland — but it is reported that they would have needed a metal cutter to pry the iron bars open.

The Irish Times reports that the heart was put on display again after being rehoused in a new vessel, designed by Cork’s Eoin Turner. The occasion was marked by a special ecumenical service of dedication and thanksgiving, celebrated by Archbishop Michael Jackson, who said:

“For those of us associated with the life of the dioceses, it brings again to the fore the close relationship between Glendalough and Dublin, a relationship of more than 800 years. “Laurence left the monastic city of Glendalough of which he was Abbot to become Archbishop of Dublin, hence cementing a vibrant relationship that continues unabated to this day.”

Following the theft an appeal was made by the cathedral’s dean, the Very Rev. Dermot Dunne, for the return of the relic with no questions asked. It is unlikely that we will ever know the identity of the party or parties responsible for the heist.

Despite the lack of traditional justice, Rev. Dunn seemed elated with the return of such an important piece of Irish Catholic history:

“I said at the time it was stolen that the relic has no economic value but it is a priceless treasure that links the cathedral’s present foundation with its founding father, St. Laurence O’Toole. “It gives joy to my heart that the heart has been returned to the city.”
Catholic historyIreland
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