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St Laurence O'Toole's heart found by gardaí six years after it was stolen

The 800-year-old relic was stolen from Christ Church Cathedral in 2012.

The relic before it was stolen
The relic before it was stolen
Image: Garda Press Office

THE HEART OF St Laurence O’Toole has been recovered by gardaí, six years after it was stolen in Dublin.

The 800-year-old relic was stolen from Christ Church Cathedral on 12 March 2012.

A long-running, ongoing investigation by An Garda Síochána led to the recovery of the heart, which is undamaged, gardaí confirmed to TheJournal.ie.

The relic will be presented by Assistant Garda Commissioner Pat Leahy to the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Reverend Dr Michael Jackson, at a service in Christ Church Cathedral at 6pm today.

Before it was stolen, the heart was kept in a wooden heart-shaped container sealed within a small iron-barred box.

Jackson said the return of the heart is of huge significance.

“The return of the heart of Laurence O’Toole to Christ Church Cathedral brings great joy to the people of Dublin as Dubliners. For those of us associated with the life of the dioceses, it brings again to the fore the close relationship between Glendalough and Dublin, a relationship of more than 800 years.

“Laurence left the monastic city of Glendalough of which he was Abbot to become Archbishop of Dublin, hence cementing a vibrant relationship that continues unabated to this day.”

Jackson extended his “deep thanks and warm appreciation” to gardaí and others who “worked tirelessly” to return the relic.

RTÉ News reports that the heart was found in the Phoenix Park in Dublin after a breakthrough in the investigation in recent weeks.

‘Priceless treasure’ 

The cathedral’s Dean, the Very Reverend Dermot Dunne, also thanked gardaí and said he was “delighted” that the relic had been recovered.

I said at the time it was stolen that the relic has no economic value but it is a priceless treasure that links the cathedral’s present foundation with its founding father, St Laurence O’Toole. It gives joy to my heart that the heart has been returned to the city.

Leahy said it gave him “enormous pleasure” to return the relic.

“It is appropriate to acknowledge the great work of individual gardaí who kept their radars on and their minds open in this ongoing investigation, and I commend them for their commitment and diligence on this matter.

“I am personally delighted to return the relic to Christ Church Cathedral where it can again provide a most important and tangible link to our past.”

O’Toole, who was born Lorcán Ua Tuathail in Kildare in 1132, became Archbishop of Dublin in 1161. He died in France in 1180 and was canonised by Pope Honorius III in 1226.

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Órla Ryan

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