Tuesday, October 17, 2017 | Updated at 4:20 PM ET

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Catholic Saint's Brain Stolen From Italian Church

First Posted: Jun 07, 2017 03:38 PM EDT
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The theft has sent shockwaves through the Catholic community in Italy.

Photo : Salesian Congregation

Authorities in Italy are looking for the thieves who stole relics of St. John "Don" Bosco, founder of the Salesian religious order, from a basilica east of Turin.

The relics, including a piece of brain tissue from Bosco, were stolen from the Catholic church bearing the saint's name near Turin on Saturday, after a group of pilgrims left the site. Members of the faithful and of the cloth are now praying for its safe return.

"We hope and pray for this relic to soon return to its rightful place, at Colle Don Bosco, precisely where Don Bosco himself was born." said Father Francesco Cereda in a statement released Tuesday.

St. John Bosco was famous for preaching, educating, and being charitable to street children around Italy. He was beatified in 1929 and formally made a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1934.

Theft of religious artifacts of historical value aren't uncommon to Italy. In 2014, thieves stole a relic containing former pope and now Saint John Paul II's blood from a church in central Abruzzo, but threw it away as they fled thinking it worthless, the Associated Press reported. Authorities later recovered the relic.

Among the devotees of Saint Bosco is chatter of dealing with potential ransom demands from the thieves, but they are remaining steadfast in their faith.

"We are also sure that as it has happened, a relic of Don Bosco can be stolen, but Don Bosco cannot be taken away from us and the many pilgrims who visit these places every day," said Father Ezio Orsini, Rector of Basilica of St. Bosco.

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