Thieves accused of stealing a religious relic stained with Polish pope John Paul II’s blood threw it away thinking it worthless, Italian media said on Thursday, reporting the police had detained three people.
Police recovered the object’s metal frame but could not find the cloth, believed to be part of the robe the pontiff was wearing when he was shot in an assassination attempt in St Peter’s Square in 1981.
It was stolen on Saturday along with a cross, which has also been found, from the San Pietro della Ienca church in the mountainous Abruzzo region in central Italy where the late pope loved to go on skiing holidays.
The PrimaDaNoi.it Abruzzo news Web site said two of those arrested are 23 and 24 years old and are drug addicts known to the police for other petty crimes.
The relic is a framed, tiny square of cloth.
The relic was given to the small church in 2011 by Stanislaw Dziwisz, a cardinal who served as John Paul II’s personal secretary until his death in 2005.
Local media said some 50 police officers and sniffer dogs were deployed in the search for the missing relic in an area famed for its weathered stone houses and the little church where the head of the Roman Catholic Church once reportedly took refuge in a storm.