Blood? Somebody stole his BLOOD?!!
Reports from Italy this morning are that thieves broke into the small mountain church of San Pietro della Ienca, near the city of L’Aquila, over the weekend and stole a reliquary containing the blood of Blessed Pope John Paul II. Only the reliquary and a crucifix were stolen, leaving behind the collection box; and police have conjectured that the thieves may seek a ransom for the blood.
The church, which kept the relic in a niche in the wall encased in a round gold and glass reliquary, was given some of the late pontiff’s blood in 2011, as a sign of his love for the region. There in the isolated mountain church, the pope would sometimes stop to pray when in the region hiking or skiing.
Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was for 38 years the pope’s personal secretary and close confidante, wrote in his 2007 memoir A Life with Karol that Pope John Paul II had made more than 100 visits to the mountains outside Rome to ski in the Italian mountains–and that he was rarely recognized by others on the slopes. One humorous story is of an outing in 1981 when the pope, accompanied by his secretary and two of his Polish aides, decided to make a “getaway” to the mountains from the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo. They crowded into a car owned by one of the priests, in order not to raise suspicions; and as they passed the Swiss Guard, one prelate opened a newspaper and pretended to read it, while shielding the face of the pope, seated in the back seat.
The missing reliquary is one of only three known to contain the Pope’s blood. The blood–which was absorbed by a gauze pad–dates back to the May 13, 1981 assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square, which nearly claimed the pope’s life.