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Vandal damages Santa Maria Maggiore church in Rome

Homeless man attacks bronze doors with a rock

19 December, 14:02
Vandal damages Santa Maria Maggiore church in Rome (ANSA) - Rome, December 19 - One of Rome's oldest and most beautiful churches, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major), has been damaged by a vandal.

The vandal climbed over two railings and attacked the basilica's bronze doors with a rock, knocking off six saintly badges and "seriously" damaging a bas-relief portrayal of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, church sources said on Monday.

Police are said to have arrested a Romanian homeless man and Vatican gendarmes are also investigating, since the church, although across the city from the Holy See and close to Termini rail station, is a Vatican 'extraterritorial' site.

Experts from Rome's art heritage superintendency said the damage ran into thousands of euros.

"It's serious damage, quantifiable in a few thousand euros," they said.

One of the fences the man climbed over was a couple of metres high and the other six metres high, police said.

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