Thieves broke into a small church in the mountains east of Rome over the weekend and stole a reliquary with the blood of the late Pope John Paul II, the Reuters website reports today (January 27, 2014).
Dozens of police with sniffer dogs scoured the remote area for clues to what the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana called "a sacrilegious theft that was probably commissioned by someone."
Franca Corrieri, church custodian, said she discovered a broken window early yesterday morning and called the police. When they entered the small stone church they found the gold reliquary and crucifix missing.
John Paul II -- who died in 2005 -- loved the mountains in the Abruzzo region. The Polish-born pope would sometimes slip away from the Vatican secretly to hike or ski there and pray in the church. He is due to be made a saint of the Roman Catholic Church in May, meaning the relic will become more noteworthy and valuable.