.- A gold reliquary containing Padre Pio relics was the apparent object of thieves' interest on Sunday evening. Sacrilege has been ruled out by a Capuchin spokesperson, as the attempt was likely for the gold, not the relics themselves.
Embedded in the altar of a chapel in the San Giovanni Rotondo cemetery in Italy is a glass and gold reliquary that contains some hair, wrappings that would have covered the saint's pierced side, and a pair of gloves, reported Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.
St. Pio bore the wounds of Christ in the stigmata for 50 years, the same wounds that also afflicted the likes of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Siena.
According to Italian news reports, the only thing stopping the thieves from making off with the relics was the strength of the reinforced glass in which they are encased.
Teleradio Padre Pio director Stefano Campanella told Italy's TGCOM that thieves were likely not interested in the relics, but had probably mistaken the reliquary for a piece of solid gold. He ruled out sacrilege, saying that "if they had wished to act in this sense they would have been able to hit the tombs of St. Pio's parents, brother or spiritual director, that have a stronger symbolic value" and are found in the same cemetery.
The Italian "carabinieri" police force are investigating the attempted theft.