The 800-year-old heart of Dublin’s patron saint has been recovered by police, six years after it was stolen from a cathedral in the city.
The relic – the heart of St Laurence O’Toole – was taken from Christ Church Cathedral in 2012.
It has no monetary value but is “a priceless treasure” for the church, the cathedral’s Dean, the Very Reverend Dermot Dunne, said.
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 relic was presented to the Archbishop of Dublin the Most Rev Dr Michael Jackson on Thursday evening by Garda Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy.
A choir sang to mark the heart’s return, with churchgoers queuing up to catch a glimpse of the relic and give prayers of thanks.
Archbishop 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.”
Rev Dunne said he was “delighted” at the relic’s 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.”
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.