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Search continues for cloth with blood of late pope

Police find part of stolen reliquary of John Paul II

30 January, 14:35
Search continues for cloth with blood of late pope (ANSA) - L'Aquila, January 30 - Police continued to hunt Thursday for cloth soaked with the blood of the late pope John Paul II that was stolen from a central Italian church at the weekend.

Earlier in the day, police found the iron frame of the reliquary and arrested two people, but the important relic itself - the cloth with the former pope's blood - has not yet been recovered.

The two who were arrested are suspected of being drug addicts and police are looking for a third addict, the sources said. The reliquary was taken along with a cross last weekend from the church of San Pietro della Ienca, located at the foot of the Gran Sasso mountain in central Italy, in Abruzzo region. The provincial commander of the paramilitary Carabinieri police, Savino Guarino, had said it was feared the thieves would dismantle the sacred object and throw parts away in the woods.

Police have also suggested it may have been stolen on commission for a particular buyer.

The church is located in an area where the charismatic Polish pontiff used to hike, ski and meditate.

John Paul, who died in 2005 and is set to be made a saint at the end of April, enjoyed slipping out of the Vatican to the quiet and devout community in the Abruzzo region.