The tale of how it got there is steeped in peculiarity.

By Clara Olshansky
Updated June 20, 2017
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saint john bosco in italy
Credit: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

When you imagine a reliquary, you probably imagine some decorative religious object on the altar of a grand cathedral. You definitely don't imagine a copper teakettle in some guy's cabinet, but that's exactly where the police found the stolen brain of St. John Bosco.

Why? The man who stole it didn't care about the brain itself. He just thought that the ornate container that housed the departed saint's remains was made of gold, so he could sell it. It wasn't. That story again: he went through all of this to steal what ended up being just a gold-painted box while caring so little about the actual brains of an actual saint that he just stuck them in a teakettle, presumably until he could figure out what to do with them.

The man stole the reliquary from the basilica of Castelnuovo, near Turin, Italy, two weeks earlier on June 2nd. Unfortunately for him, due to a prior criminal record the police were able to identify him by matching the fingerprints on the glass case protecting the reliquary with the ones they had on file. They watched and followed him for a few days, before getting the warrant they needed to search his house (and his teakettle).

saint john bosco brain found in teapot and stolen
Credit: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

St. John Bosco, or Don Bosco, was an Italian priest who dedicated his life to helping children in need. He founded the Salesian religious order, dedicated to helping the young and the poor. He died in 1888, was beatified in 1929, was canonized in 1934, and had his brain stuck in some guy's teakettle in 2017.