ROME — Police have recovered most of a piece of fabric stained by the blood of Pope John Paul II that was stolen from a church in central Italy.

The auxiliary bishop of l’Aquila, Giovanni D’Ercole, joined police at a news conference Friday to announce that he had been able to piece the fabric back together. The fabric had been found in the garage of one of the three people detained for the theft.

The relic went missing last week from the church in the Apennine mountains where John Paul liked to ski. It contained blood from when he was shot in 1981.

John Paul, who died in 2005, will become a saint April 27.

As for the thieves, D’Ercole said: “The forgiveness of John Paul II is total, as is ours.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press