Pope paul knelt in silent prayer on Sunday (March 25) and blessed Michelangelo's Pieta sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding the dead Christ, now fully restored.
GV St. Peter's Vatican.
SV Congregation applauding.
GV Pope and bishops enter and walk towards alter.
CU Woman wiping tears.
GV ZOOM INTO SV Pope kneeling at altar by damaged statute.
SV Pope makes sing of the cross.
CU Congregation from statue
SV PAN ZOOM INTO Pope.
CU TILT DOWN Statue
CU Pope talking to Cardinals.
Initials PK/VS 2.17 PK/VS 2.28
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Background: Pope paul knelt in silent prayer on Sunday (March 25) and blessed Michelangelo's Pieta sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding the dead Christ, now fully restored. The masterpiece which was badly damaged in a hammer attack last May was once again on view to the public in St. Peter's Basilica at The Vatican.
The 15th century white marble statue is now protected by a screen of armoured glass able to withstand 22 calibre machinegun bullets. A marble balustrade keeps the public 25 ft (eight metres) away from the Pieta. Between that and the glass in a network of photoelectric rays linked to an alarm system.
An 18-man restoration team has worked since May to restore the statue so beautifully that hardly a hairline marks their repairs.
In May, a Hungarian-born Australian, Lazslo Toth, seized a hammer and attacked the sculpture before a crowd of tourists shouting "I am Jesus Christ. The virgin is not my mother."
The hammer blows broke off the statue's left hand, smashed the nose, left eye and veil and damaged the left cheek.
Pope Paul told the restoration experts: "Yours was a work which became a prayer and which restores this work of art to the admiration of the world and the devotion of the faithful."
SYNOPSIS: In St. Peter's Basilica on Sunday, Michelangelo's Pieta sculpture was open to the public once again.
The applause was for Pope Paul as he came to bless the restored statue of the Virgin Mary holding the dead Christ. A team of eighteen restoration experts had been working since May to repair the damage done by an Australian who attacked the masterpiece with a hammer. The statue's left hand was broken and the nose, left eye and veil smashed. Now hardly a hairline marks the repairs.
To see the statue again was a moving sight.
Pope Paul knelt in silent prayer and gazed through bullet proof glass guarding the fifteenth century sculpture The glass is able to withstand twenty two calibre machinegun bullets.
A marble balustrade keeps the public at a distance from the Pieta. It is also protected by photoelectric rays linked to an alarm system.
Restorers replaced broken places of the statue, and set in tiny pieces of marble with a paste of marble power and resin. The Pieta was also washed for the first time in centuries.
Later Pope Paul told the restorers that their work had become a prayer. It has restored the work of art to the admiration of the world and the devotion of the faithful.