They told a news conference in L'Aquila, east of Rome, that they
found the fragment in the garage of two men who were detained for
having stolen the reliquary last week.
Bishop Giovanni D'Ercole told the same news conference he had pieced
together the reliquary and the cloth after police found them in bits
on successive days.
The recovered piece of fabric was missing just a few filaments of
cloth and gold thread, he said.
"I think John Paul has forgiven them. I think we have to do the
same," D'Ercole said of the men, believed by police to be drug
The reliquary and a crucifix were stolen from the isolated mountain
church of San Pietro della Ienca last weekend.
The cloth was a fragment of the cassock that John Paul was wearing
on May 13, 1981, when he was shot in an assassination attempt.
Relics of saints and other holy figures are often displayed in
reliquaries to be venerated by the Catholic faithful.
[to top of second column]
The late pope, who is due to be declared a saint on April 27, loved
the mountains in the Abruzzo region because they reminded him of
those in his native Poland. He would slip away secretly from the
pressures of the Vatican to hike and ski there in the early years of
His secretary, now Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow in Poland,
gave the local community the relic.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Tom Heneghan)
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