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Pope John Paul II relic stolen from Italian cathedral

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Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia pleads for return of gold-encased blood.

A relic of Pope St. John Paul II was stolen from an Italian cathedral this week, and the local bishop is pleading with whoever is responsible to return it.

Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia, who was a close aide to John Paul for years at the Vatican, issued a call to “give the reliquary back to the cathedral and the faithful. What I am asking is a gesture of responsibility and seriousness.”

Archbishop Boccardo said it was not clear if the relic had been stolen for ransom, which has happened in the past with other such artifacts in Italy, said Reuters. Police were reviewing footage of security cameras inside and outside the cathedral.

The wire service said that a gold and crystal casing holding drops of the late pope’s blood was taken on Wednesday from an altar dedicated to John Paul, who died in 2005.

Catholic News Agency said that the relic was a gift from the Archbishop of Kraków to the Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia in 2016. “The archdiocese planned to move the relic to a new church in honor of the Polish saint on Oct. 22,” which is his feast day, CNA said.

“A sacristan who was closing the cathedral for the night discovered the theft of the reliquary,” Reuters said. “The relic was in the Spoleto cathedral temporarily and was due to be moved next month to a new church in the Umbria region named after the late pope.”

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