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Police in Italy hunt for relic containing John Paul II's blood


In this May 2, 2001 file photo, Pope John Paul II waves to faithfuls gathered for the weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican. (AP)

Police are searching a neighborhood in central Italy for a tiny relic bearing Pope John Paul II's blood after three suspected thieves tossed it away.

Dozens of officers were hunting for the relic Thursday on the outskirts of L'Aquila city in an area built for people left homeless by a 2009 earthquake.

The artifact, about the size of a fingernail, contains blood from when John Paul was wounded in a 1981 shooting. It was stolen last week from a chapel in the Apennine mountains where he liked to ski.

Police found part of the metal container but the relic inside was gone. Police say the suspects, unaware of its value, threw it away and don't recall where.

John Paul, who died in 2005, will become a saint on April 27.