Europe

Pope John Paul ll blood-soaked relic found in Italy

A broken glass of a niche where the reliquary with the blood of the late Pope John Paul II was located is seen next to a painting of the late Pope in the small mountain church of San Pietro della Ienca, Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The relic was stolen from the small mountain church of San Pietro della Ienca in the mountains of the central Abruzzo region

Italian police have recovered most of a piece of cloth stained with the blood of Pope John Paul ll after it was stolen from a church in Abruzzo.

The cloth - from a cassock John Paul was wearing in 1981 when a gunman tried to assassinate him - was taken in a burglary last weekend.

The cloth was found in separate pieces in a garage of one of the three men arrested in connection with the theft.

It has been put back together with only a few filaments of gold missing.

Police are still looking for the remaining fragments.

On Thursday officers had found the gold and glass case in which the relic was held but said the cloth was still missing.

Image copyright sanpietrodellaienca.it
Image caption The cloth is from a cassock John Paul was wearing in 1981 when a gunman tried to assassinate him

But on Friday, Bishop Giovanni D'Ercole told a press conference in L'Aquila that the cloth had now also been found and pieced together.

"I think John Paul has forgiven them. I think we have to do the same," Bishop D'Ercole said.

The relic was taken during a burglary of the San Pietro della Ienca church.

The three suspects apparently threw the cloth away, not realising its value.

A small crucifix that was stolen along with the reliquary has also been recovered.

Abruzzo was a place of special significance to the ski-loving Pope, who died in 2005.

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