Rome: A vial of what the church says is the late Pope John Paul II's blood was almost lost when three men stole a backpack from a priest travelling on a train near Rome. However, the vial was recovered later.
The thieves -- described as north African -- distracted Father Agusto Baldini during a stop at the Marina di Cerveteri station near Rome, and stole his backpack.
Inside the backpack was what Baldini says was a vial of John's Paul's blood attached to a bronze sculpture of a book.
A few hours later, police found the two items abandoned in shrubs not far from the train station.
"I went through five hours of agony," Baldini told the La Repubblica newspaper.
Tradition says the blood was from the 1981 shooting in St Peter's Square that almost took the pope's life.
The priest was transporting the vial to Allumiere town, 60 km from Rome, where it was to be used in a religious celebration.
First Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012, 11:53