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Man seized for stealing blood of Pope John Paul II

Italian police in Spoleto said on Friday they had found the presumed thief who stole a church relic containing the blood of the late Pope John Paul II.

Man seized for stealing blood of Pope John Paul II
The relic was stolen from the cathedral in Spoleto in central Italy. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
The relic of the Polish pope who died in 2005 and was canonised in 2014 was stolen in September from the cathedral in Spoleto, in the centre of Italy.
   
Local police told AFP they filed charges for theft against a 59-year-old man from Tuscany, known to police for having stolen other sacred relics in the past. The man was not arrested.
   
Video surveillance taken inside the church and in city streets helped authorities identify the man.
 
   
The relic remains missing, however, after a search of the man's home revealed no traces of it, police said.
   
The golden cross with a vial of the former pope's blood was given to the Spoleto-Norcia archdiocese in 2016 by the Polish cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who served for years as John Paul II's personal secretary.
   
The relic was displayed in a niche of the cathedral, protected by an iron gate, whose alarm did not sound after the theft in broad daylight.
   
The alleged thief then headed to the train station where he took two trains to return home.

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ROME

‘Bank robber’ rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

Four people were arrested in Rome after a suspected would-be bank robber was rescued from a tunnel under a road, police said on Friday.

'Bank robber' rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

An Italian man had to be rescued after becoming trapped in a collapsed tunnel near the Vatican, suspected of being part of a gang burrowing its way to a nearby bank.

Firefighters spent eight hours digging him out from under a road in the west of Rome, before he was finally freed on Thursday evening and taken to hospital.

“Two people from Naples were arrested for resisting a public official and two, from Rome, for damage” to public property, a police spokesman told AFP.

The rescued man, one of the two Romans, remains in hospital, he said without giving an update on his condition.

“We are still investigating, we do not exclude that they are thieves, it is one of the theories,” he said.

For Italian newspapers, however, the motive was clear, with reports noting the tunnel was found near a bank ahead of the August 15th long weekend, when residents traditionally head out of town and much of Rome is left empty.

“The hole gang,” headlined newspapers Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, while La Stampa said: “They dig a tunnel to rob a bank, and one of them is buried underground.”

Other reports referred to the suspected burglar as l’uomo-talpa, or ‘mole man’.

An AFP reporter at the scene on Thursday saw the man brought out alive on a stretcher, after a day-long operation involving dozens of emergency service workers using mechanical diggers.

The tunnel began underneath an empty shop that had recently been rented.

“We all thought that the people there were renovating the place. So we had no suspicions and we did not hear noises either,” a resident, Michele, who lives in the same building told AFP.

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