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Rome basilica vandalized, bronze door damaged

December 19, 2011
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ROME—Vandals have made a fist-sized hole in the bronze central door of one of Rome's main basilicas, St. Mary Major.

The damage, seemingly made by a small-tipped hammer or rock, was discovered Tuesday morning on a panel of the door depicting the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary. The ANSA news agency said the presumed vandal had been detained.

The basilica, which dates from the 5th century, is one of four in Rome that are under the direct jurisdiction of the Vatican.

According to legend, Mary appeared to Pope Liberius in August 358 and directed him to build a church where he would find snow in the morning; the miraculous snowfall is commemorated each Aug. 5.

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