Irish saint's heart returned to church it was stolen from 6 years ago

An 800-year-old religious relic, the heart of St. Laurence O'Toole, patron saint of Dublin, has been returned to the church it was stolen from in 2012.

The thieves may have returned the relic because they thought it was "cursed," according to media reports.

After a nearly six-year-long investigation by the police, the heart was found undamaged and was returned to Christ Church Cathedral in a ceremony on Thursday, the Catholic Herald reports.

Anglican Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin said the return of the relic is extraordinarily important, one that gives the people of Dublin “great joy.”

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“Our deep thanks and warm appreciation go to all who have worked tirelessly to make this day of restoration possible,” he said in comments obtained by Catholic Herald.

The cathedral held a service Thursday to celebrate the heart's return.

A spokesman for the church said that there will be a proper shine for St. Laurence, now that the relic has been properly returned.

St. Laurence has great significance for Irish Catholics. He was elected Archbishop of Dublin in 1162 during the pontificate of Alexander III. He also helped the Irish church reform in the 12th century, in addition to taking care of the wounded during the Anglo-Norman invasion in Ireland. He ultimately helped mediate between the Normans and the Irish, SWNS reports.

St. Laurence fell ill after his last trip to Normandy for King Henry II, for whom he was a trusted adviser. He eventually died on November 14, 1180 and was canonized in 1226 by Pope Honorius III.