Laurence O’Toole’s Missing Heart- an Irish Mystery

If you visit Ireland, be sure to see the Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. It was originally build by the Hiberno-Norse king of Dublin, Sitric “Silkbeard”, and rebuilt in 1186.

However, the most interesting part of the tour is what you won’t see – the preserved heart of Saint Laurence O’Toole. He died in 1180, and while the rest of his body was buried, his heart was preserved and placed in a wooden box.

His body was stolen sometime in the 16th century, but the heart remained locked behind an iron cage in the cathedral. That is until March 4, 2012 when it was stolen. A lot of people did not like the idea of the Christ Church having this relic. You see, this church had switched from Catholicism to become affiliated with the Anglican church during the time of King Henry VIII. Even more insulting is the fact that the  Anglican church  (and the affiliated Church of Ireland) does not believe in saints. Many people in Ireland think that a conservative Catholic group took the heart to restore it to its proper location. Where that secret hoard of religious relics may be remains a mystery. Still; waiting from King Henry’s time until 2012 seems rather extreme.

When you step outside the cool stone walls of the cathedral you are immediately thrust back into the modern world. The cathedral is in the center of downtown Dublin and bordered on all sides by busy streets full of rushing traffic. But don’t let the veil of modern society fool you. The currents of history still run deep in Dublin and there are struggles beyond the comprehension of the average tourist.

As William Faulkner said, “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Lawrence O'Toole's Missing Heart

Lawrence O’Toole’s Missing Heart

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