A thief or thieves posing as pilgrims have stolen a relic of the brain of Saint John Bosco and Catholics around the world are praying for its safe return. According to police, a thief (or thieves) entered the Basilica of Saint John Bosco in Castelnuovo, near Turin, last Friday and stole a glass case containing the relic of the saint.
“I invite whoever took it to give it back immediately, without any conditions so we can close this painful page and continue to honor the memory of Don Bosco worthily in his birthplace,” said Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin.
St. John Bosco is venerated for having dedicated his life to helping poor, deprived children. Born in Castelnuovo in 1815, he founded the Salesian religious order. He died in 1888 and was canonized in 1934.
Archbishop Nosiglia said in a release the news was something “you never wanted to hear.”
“It makes you think of the profound moral misery of someone who would steal a ‘sign’ that’s been left and conserved for the devotion and the faith of all,” he said.
Police worry the thief may seek a ransom for the return of the saint’s brain and there has also been speculation in the Italian media that it may be used for a satanic ritual.
The Rev. Moreno Filipetto, a spokesman for the Salesians in northern Italy, told Vatican Radio: “You can take away a relic of Don Bosco, but you can’t take away Don Bosco from the church or the world.”
Police are continuing their investigation. Please pray for the return of this sacred relic!