PARIS, France (AP) -- The heart of the 10-year-old heir to France's throne was cut from his body when he died in prison, pickled, stolen, returned, and DNA-tested two centuries later.

Next week, Louis XVII's heart will be placed in France's royal crypt north of Paris now that genetic testing has persuaded many historians that the tiny petrified heart is almost certainly the real thing.

In ceremonies on Monday and Tuesday, European royalty will honor the little boy who became a pawn of the French Revolution, dying alone in a filthy prison.

After a Mass on Tuesday, his heart will be laid to rest at the Saint-Denis Basilica near the graves of his parents, Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI.

The ceremonies recognizing the royal heart seek to close 209 years of rumor, legend and historical uncertainty surrounding the child's death -- though some skeptics still insist the mystery has not been solved.

Many historians had insisted that the true heir escaped and the sickly boy who died was a substitute.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe....ap/index.html