A region-wide hunt ensues as Pope John Paul II's blood is stolen from San Pietro.   Sniffer dogs and 50 police officers have been deployed as a small framed square of cloth was taken from San Pietra Della Lenca on Sunday. 

Thieves apparently broke by sawing through the iron-barred windows after the church had been closed due to a snowstorm.  A vial of Pope John Paul's blood was previously stolen from a backpack in 2012 from Rome.  It was later found thrown in reeds beside the train station.

The former Pope often skiied in the area of Abruzza, in Central Italy, near San Pietra and it has been said that the church was very special to him.  

Pope John Paul II has also been cleared for a sainthood; a ceremony is set to take place in the Vatican in April. The first miracle to be approved by the Vatican was the curing of Parkinson's in French nun Sister Marie Simon-Pierre after she prayed for the Pope's 'intercession'.  The second was a Costa Rican woman, who was apparently cured of a brain aneurysm after viewing a poster of the Pope.  He was put on a fast-track to sainthood, but some are concerned that the process has been too quick. 

The last years of his papacy were marred by child abuse scandals within the Catholic church.