28 Jan 2014

Tube of late pope's blood stolen

8:51 pm on 28 January 2014

A tube containing Pope John Paul II's blood has been stolen from a church in Italy.

According to the Repubblica daily newspaper, the vial was stolen on Saturday from the San Pietro della Ienca church in the mountainous Abruzzo region in central Italy where the pope, who died in 2005, loved to go on skiing holidays.

Police and sniffer dogs are searching the area.

Pasquale Corriere, of the San Pietro della Ienca association, said there are only three vials in the world containing the former pontiff's blood.

In 2011, John Paul's former private secretary Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, now archbishop of Krakow in Poland, gave the Abruzzo community some of the pontiff's blood as a token of the love he had felt for the area.

It was put in a gold and glass circular case and kept in a niche of the small mountain church near the city of L'Aquila.

Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII are due to be canonised as saints in a ceremony at the Vatican in April this year.