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.The Basilica houses part of the manger in which the Christ-Child was placed in Bethlehem.
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 [more].
20 December 2011
Vandal damages door of Marian basilica
Yesterday a vandal damaged one of the bronze doors of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major), one of the oldest churches dedicated to Mary throughtout the world: