Vatican: St. Peter's Square's statues threatened

London, 12 July (AKI) - A series of 140 statues of Christian saints crowning the colonnade surrounding St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City could crumble unless urgent restoration work is carried out, two US experts have warned.

The experts, who asked for their names not to be published, described the results of their findings to IGN, the online service of the Italy's Adnkronos media group. They provided a series of digital photographs backing their argument which can be viewed at:

Damage was mainly due to exposure to the weather and other factors such as bird excrement, said the experts, pointing to blotches and stains that have appeared on the statues that adorn the colonnade designed by the Renaissance master Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

"Bird excrement and large black crusts have disfigured some to the statues to the extent that several of them have become unrecognisable," the experts said.

In addition "inappropriate maintenance work with stucco and other materials" as well as "oxidation of metal support structures and parts of the stone" had caused ulterior damage, they said.

"Fortunately, only a few cases of cracking are evident, however for those statues most exposed to the weather, one can detect small holes developing in the travertine marble," they said.


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