VATICAN CITY – His toes curl in pain, his veins bulge from exertion, his bony chest heaves in the last throes of death.The newly restored 14th-century wooden crucified Christ “has been resurrected” from obscurity – once caked over with dark paint and left forgotten behind an elevator shaft, said Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.”We have discovered a hidden treasure under the dust of many centuries,” he told reporters at a Vatican news conference Oct. 28.The oldest crucifix in the basilica’s possession, it was made by an unknown sculptor of “exceptional artistic talent” and technical skill sometime in the early 1300s, and hung in the original fourth-century basilica of St. Peter, built by the Emperor Constantine, said Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, secretary of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the office responsible for physical care and maintenance of St. Peter’s Basilica.The 7-foot-long torso and legs were made in one piece from a solid trunk of seasoned walnut, he said. The arms – spanning nearly 6 and a half feet – and head were carved separately but came from the same already centuries’ old tree.Antique prints and a rich trail of archival material track the crucifix’s condition and its various locations inside the old basilica and its transfer to the new basilica when it was completed in 1620. The documents show that no matter where it was positioned, it was a popular and much-venerated piece of work, the bishop said.It even managed to survive the Sack of Rome in 1527 and desecration when the basilica was turned into a “horse stable” and the Christ figure was dressed in the uniform of the invading mercenaries, he said.

Source: Medieval crucifix in St. Peter’s Basilica ‘resurrected’ from obscurity

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