The skull of a saint has gone missing in Germany.
Johannes zu Eltz, the Catholic city dean of Frankfurt, announced Tuesday that a container holding the remains of Saint Hedwig, a duchess who lived in the 13th century and was canonized after her death, vanished recently from the Frankfurt Cathedral, according to the Local. Zu Eltz suggested the gilded monstrance that held pieces of the saint's skull had been stolen sometime between Friday and Tuesday. The lock that secured the item was gone as well.
"The relic has a great intangible value for the faithful," he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine in German. "Maybe it was just a fool who wants to make a quick buck."
Falls einer den Schädel der heiligen Hedwig findet: es gibt Finderlohn! https://t.co/AUBC7tijUZ
— Markus Felber (@Frechgeist) April 27, 2016
Hedwig was born in Bavaria in the late 1100s and married Duke Henry of Silesia as a child. She founded a monastery and cared for the poor, and "is considered a saint of reconciliation between Germans and Poles," according to Journal Frankfurt. BuzzFeed noted last month that the owl Hedwig in J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series was named after her.
The reliquary holding the saint's skull doesn't belong to Frankfurt Cathedral — it was on loan from the diocese of Görlitz, a city about 350 miles away. But the priest said Tuesday the item was not worth much money. Zu Eltz offered an "ordinary reward" for its return, Frankfuter Neue Presse reported, adding that the cathedral would not become "a maximum-security prison" despite the theft.
Hedwig's skull wasn't the only important bone that's disappeared recently in Europe: Researchers discovered last month that William Shakespeare's head was not in his grave in England.
"The area of disturbance was a surprise, as all of the tales of grave robbing of his tomb had always been dismissed as fiction," archaeologist Kevin Colls told Scientific American. "We believe that his skull is probably located somewhere else, and further research is required to figure out where that might be."