UK

Pope John Paul II's Blood Stolen After Thieves Steal Holy Relics From Italian Church

27/01/2014 13:44 GMT | Updated 27/01/2014 17:59 GMT

A holy relic containing the blood of Pope John Paul II has been stolen from a church in San Pietro Della Lenca, in central Italy.

The gold reliquary went missing along with a crucifix after thieves gained entry to the building possibly by smashing a window.

John Paul - who died in 2005 - was a big fan of the Abruzzo region and would often hike and ski in the area.

pope john paul ii

In this 1996 file photo, Pope John Paul II looks at a dove after he delivered the noon blessing

His former private secretary gifted the church with the relic in 2011 to commemorate him.

The building's custodian, Franca Corrieri, told Reuters the theft felt more like a kidnapping.

She said: "In a sense, a person has been stolen."

It is one of only three known vials containing the Polish Pope’s blood which was taken from him following an assassination attempt in St Perter's Square in 1981.

John Paul is expected to be declared a saint in a ceremony at the Vatican on 27 April.

Best Of Pope Francis