| || |
They stole his heart
March 6, 2012 - Stephen Browne
On March 3, the heart of Lorcán Ua Tuathail, also known as St Laurence O'Toole, (1128 - 1180) was stolen from its iron cage mounted on a wall in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.
Christ Church Cathedral is not Roman Catholic, but Church of Ireland, an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion.
St. Lawrence was canonized in 1225 by Pope Honorius III, but I don't suppose many on this side of the Atlantic would have ever heard of him if his preserved heart hadn't been stolen. Reliquaries containing body parts of saints are a holdover from an earlier time. The Catholic Church still declares sainthood, but tends to be more low-key about relics these days. Though a vial of blood of Pope John Paul II, recently beatified, has been preserved and displayed.
Once in the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria I saw the preserved body of a local saint on display. The body was covered with a cloth, with a hole over the hand. People would buy cards with images of the saint and the monks would stroke them on the dessicated hand to sanctify them.
Since its separation from Rome, the Anglican communion has declared precisely one saint, the martyred King Charles I, so I suppose they have to take care of the ones they've still got. (Since my personal opinion is that Charles Stuart was indeed guilty of treason, this has been a source of some tension with my Anglo-Catholic relatives...)
One wonders what the heck the thief or thieves expect to get out of the heart of St. Lawrence? Do they intend to sell it to one of those rich collectors of stolen artwork one reads about in novels? And are there really any such? Is there really a black market in stolen masterpieces and holy relics?
Or was the motive religious in some twisted way? Did someone think a relic of the patron saint of Dublin didn't belong in a church considered Protestant?
Of did someone steal if for their own private veneration? In which case, I'd think their conscience would start to trouble them after a while...
This is indeed a curious case, but I would not have you think I am inviting you to laugh at these things. I think all of us, whatever our religious opinions, have visited a place, or handled an object which seemed... somehow different and special. Call it holy, or sacred if you like. And quite obviously people have thought this way for some time. We have archeological evidence that shows places and objects treated as sacred going back to the stone age, and that Neanderthal Man treated their dead with reverence.
It is also odd that reportedly the thief or thieves took the heart and left several golden candlesticks alone. Curiouser and curiouser.
I shall be waiting with interest to see how this case turns out.
No comments posted for this article.
Post a Comment
News, Blogs & Events Web