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Paul L. Gleiser | all galleries >> Selecting a New Pope April 2005 > 0405d-0420-0017-a.jpg
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04/20/2005 Paul L. Gleiser


St. Peter's Basilica Rome, Italy

Michelangelo completed the Pieta in 1498 when he was just 24 years old. This is the work that put the Florentine sculptor on the map and launched a career that was legendary during the artist's own lifetime. The Pieta has stood since the 18th century in the first chapel on the right as you enter St. Peter's Basilica. The sculpture was badly damaged on Pentecost Sunday, May 21, 1972 when a mentally disturbed geologist called Lazlo (or Laszlo) Toth walked into the chapel and attacked the Virgin with a hammer while shouting, "I am Jesus Christ." Following a painstaking repair, the sculpture was put back on display but protected by bulletproof glass. This iconic sculpture is but one item in an art collection held by the Vatican that staggers the imagination in terms of size and scope.

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