A relic of St John Bosco's brain has been discovered hidden inside a copper kettle in the kitchen of a man who told investigators he hoped to make a profit from selling its glass case, Britain's The Telegraph reports.
A reliquary containing the piece of the brain of the late 19th century founder of the Salesian order was stolen from a small room behind the main altar in the basilica of Castelnuova, near Turin, Italy, on June 3, sometime after a visit by a group of pilgrims, and before church was locked up for the evening.
Detectives investigating the crime scene found fingerprints on the back of the altar as well as shoe prints around the glass case where the relic was housed and submitted them to the national Carabinieri forensics lab in Parma, where digital fingerprint identification technology found a match with a 42-year-old man with a prior criminal history living in Pinerolo, north of Turin.
Detectives followed the man for days before raiding his home and discovering the relic – its wax seal still unbroken - hidden inside a copper kettle in one of the kitchen cabinets.
The man, who confessed, told investigators he thought the reliquary was made of gold and could be sold for profit.
Devotees from around the world have been praying for the return of the relic, which has now been put back in its original resting place inside the basilica.
“This had a huge resonance with people that we did not expect, with prayer vigils, letters and requests for information pouring in from around the world,” said Enrico Stasi, the Salesian provincial for the Piedmont region when reached by phone.
“Our Rector is coming here tomorrow to thank the Carabinieri, who did an excellent job. Obviously we are very, very happy.”
Stolen brain of St John Bosco found in kettle (The Telegraph UK)