The 800-year-old heart of Dublin’s patron saint has been returned to the city’s cathedral six years after it was stolen from the church.
The relic – the heart of St Laurence O’Toole – was taken from Christ Church Cathedral in 2012.
As a choir led the congregation in the Hymn of St Laurence O’Toole, Patrick Leahy, assistant police commissioner for the Dublin region, followed a procession to the altar, where the heart was handed over on a cushion and placed on a stand.
Assistant Garda Commissioner Patrick Leahy presenting the heart of Laurence OíToole to Archbishop of Dublin
The cathedral’s Dean, the Very Reverend Dermot Dunne, said the relic had very little monetary value
The relic is kept in a wooden heart-shaped box and placed within a small iron-barred cage
The theft of the relic, which had been kept in a wooden heart-shaped box and placed within a small iron-barred cage, sparked a six-year investigation by Gardai.
The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Reverend Dr Michael Jackson thanked those who had helped recover the relic, and described the return of the heart as a joyful moment for the people of the city.
He said: ‘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.’
The relic has no monetary value but is ‘a priceless treasure’ for the church, the cathedral’s Dean, the Very Reverend Dermot Dunne, said.
Rev Dunne said he was ‘delighted’ at its return.
He said: ‘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.’
The Archbishop of Dublin with the heart. The thief left more valuable items when they made off with the relic
People line up to see the heart of Laurence O’Toole at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin
The Dublin Cathedral choir line up with the Assistant Garda Commissioner Patrick Leahy and Archbishop of Dublin
Assistant Commissioner Leahy commended officers who he said had ‘kept their radars on and their minds open in this ongoing investigation’.
Gardai said no arrests have been made.
There will now be a shrine to St Laurence, who died in 1180, in the cathedral, the church said, noting that they had looked at their security since the theft and continue to have regular reviews.
The heart of was stolen by a thief who left more valuable gold artefacts behind in favour of the relic.
O’Toole died in northern France in 1180, but his heart was returned to Dublin and installed at the cathedral, where it remained for over 800 years.
A police spokesman declined to comment on reports that the heart had been was discovered by officers in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, or to say whether the thief had been identified.