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July 31, 2014

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Relic of late pope’s blood stolen in Italy

Image

Pier Paolo Cito / AP

In this Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2004, file photo, Pope John Paul II blesses the faithful during the weekly general audience in the courtyard of his summer residence of Castelgandolfo, in the outskirts of Rome. Police are searching an Italian mountain area beloved by Pope John Paul II for a stolen relic bearing his blood.

ROME — Police are searching an Italian mountain area beloved by Pope John Paul II for a stolen relic bearing his blood.

Vatican Radio decried the "sacrilegious theft" from tiny San Pietro della Ienca church near the Gran Sasso part of the Apennine mountains, where John Paul used to hike and ski.

Carabinieri paramilitary police Col. Andrea Ronchey in nearby L'Aquila told The Associated Press Monday that the relic — a bit of blood-soaked cloth kept inside a painted metal cross — was last seen on Thursday in the church.

John Paul, who died in 2005 and will be made a saint April 27 during a Vatican ceremony, had celebrated Mass in the church.

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