W W hen pilgrims lined up in a church in northern Italy to pray before the relic of St. John Bosco, the revered founder of the Salesian religious order, on Saturday (June 3), they encountered a sign with an unexpected message: "Closed. Under construction."
However, it was clear that no construction work was going on in the church, called the basilica of Castelnuovo, located near Turin. And so, as pressure mounted over the puzzling sign, the church revealed a shocking truth: Someone had stolen preserved brain bits of a saint.
"The relic of St. Bosco has been stolen," Rev. Moreno Filipetto, a spokesman for the Salesian religious order, said in a statement. "To avoid hindering the ongoing police investigation, no other information will be provided." [Saint Science: The 10 Most Controversial Miracles]
The mysterious theft probably occurred just before the basilica's closing time on Friday (June 2), according to reports in Turin's newspaper, La Stampa. The thief, disguised as a pilgrim, likely just walked out of the church with a glass case containing pieces of the preserved brain of St. John Bosco, popularly known as Don Bosco, La Stampa reported.
"We do not really know why the relic was stolen," Filipetto told Live Science in Italian. "We have the utmost trust in the work of the police; they are working hard on the case."