Italy: 'Drug addicts stole John Paul II relic and threw it away'
last update: January 30, 19:13
L'Aquila, 30 January (AKI) - Three drug addicts arrested on Thursday confessed to stealing and throwing away a blood-stained shred of clothing worn by Pope John Paul II after breaking into the central Italian church housing the relic.
The men were quoted in Italian media reports as saying they had tossed the blood-soaked cloth into a bush near the San Pietro della Ienca church outside the city of L'Aquila but could not remember exactly where.
Earlier in the day, police found the iron frame of the relic container, or reliquary, near a drug-addict treatment facility in the town of Collemaggio, not far L'Aquila, capital of the Abruzzo region.
The relic and a cross were reported missing last weekend from the sanctuary dedicated to the popular Polish pontiff and sparked a huge police search in the surrounding area amid fears Satanists could be behind the thefts.
The bloody shreds of clothing were worn by John Paull II during the failed 1980 assassination attempt against him.
The San Pietro della Ienca church is at the foot of the Gran Sasso mountain, an area where John Paull II used to hike, ski and meditate.
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