FaithWorld

Vatican marks anniversary of the 1972 attack on Michelangelo’s Pieta

(A combo photo shows a detail view of the damaged Michelangelo’s Pieta and it after restoration works at the Vatican. Musei Vaticani/Handout via Reuters)

Forty-one years ago, a crazed Hungarian named Laszlo Toth jumped an altar railing in St. Peter’s Basilica and dealt 12 hammer blows to Michelangelo’s Pieta, severely damaging the Renaissance masterpiece.

To mark the attack on May 21, 1972, the Vatican Museums held a day-long seminar on Tuesday on the statue, the incident, and what subsequently became one of the most delicate and controversial art restorations in history.

In his attack on the statue, which depicts the Madonna holding the body of the dead Jesus minutes after he was taken down from the cross, the unemployed geologist knocked off her left arm and hand.

Toth, who alternately said he was Jesus Christ or Michelangelo, also broke her nose in three parts and left about 100 other fragments, including chips from the back of her head, lying on the floor of the chapel where it was on display.

Church must help the poorest, not discuss theology over tea, Pope Francis says

(Pope Francis speaks as he leads a Pentecost vigil mass in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 18, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

Pope Francis shared personal moments with 200,000 people on Saturday, telling them he sometimes nods off while praying at the end of a long day and that it “breaks my heart” that the death of a homeless person is not news.

Francis, who has made straight talk and simplicity a hallmark of his papacy, made his unscripted comments in answers to questions by four people at a huge international gathering of Catholic associations in St. Peter’s Square.

Three popes in Vatican as Egypt’s Coptic leader visits Francis

(Pope Francis (R) and the Coptic Orthodox leader Tawadros II pose during a private audience in the pontiff’s library at the Vatican, May 10, 2013. REUTERS/Andreas Solaro/Pool)

At the Vatican on Friday not one, not two, but three popes were inside the tiny city-state’s walls at the same time.

Coptic Pope Tawadros II and Catholic Pope Francis, each addressing the other as “Your Holiness”, prayed together for reconciliation among communities and nations without mention of events in Egypt. Tawadros has previously denounced a wave of anti-Christian attacks there.

Pope Francis to review Vatican bureaucracy and its scandal-ridden bank

(St Peter Basilica is seen over Sant’Angelo bridge on the Tiber river in Rome December 12, 2008. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Pope Francis, who has said he wants the Catholic Church to be a model of austerity and honesty, could restructure or even close the Vatican’s scandal-ridden bank as part of a broad review of its troubled bureaucracy, Vatican sources say.

Francis, who inherited a Church mired in scandals over priests’ sexual abuse of children and the leak of confidential documents alleging corruption and infighting in the Vatican’s central administration, is mulling his options as he sets the tone for a reformed and humbler Holy See.

Pope Francis includes women, Muslims for first time in Holy Thursday rite

Pope Francis washes the foot of a prisoner at Casal del Marmo youth prison in Rome March 28, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano

Two young women were among 12 people whose feet Pope Francis washed and kissed at a traditional ceremony in a Rome youth prison on Holy Thursday, the first time a pontiff has included females in the rite.

The pope traveled to the Casal del Marmo prison on Rome’s outskirts for the traditional Mass, which commemorates Jesus’s gesture of humility towards his apostles the night before he died.

Vatican denies Pope Francis stayed silent during Argentine dictatorship

(Newly elected Pope Francis I, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, checks out of the church-run residence where he had been staying in Rome before his election. March 14, 2013,  REUTERS/Osservatore Romano)

The Vatican on Friday strongly denied accusations by some critics in Argentina that Pope Francis stayed silent during systematic human rights abuses by the former military dictatorship.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters the accusations: “Must be clearly and firmly denied.” He added that, “They reveal anti-clerical left-wing elements that are used to attack the Church”.

By-the-book Vatican braces for an unscripted papacy

(Newly elected Pope Francis I (2nd R) walks in the 5th-century Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore during a private visit in Rome March 14, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano)

The Vatican, an age-old institution used to having almost everything done by the book, is bracing for the unscripted papacy.

In less than 24 hours after he became the first non-European pope in some 1,300 years, Francis seemed to break more rules than his predecessor did in eight years.

Vatican muzzles U.S. cardinals, conclave start may be delayed

(Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi of Italy arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

Vatican officials on Wednesday told cardinals gathered for the election of the next pope to stop speaking to the media, as further indications emerged that a conclave would not start early next week as had been expected.

American cardinals who had been scheduled to hold their third media briefing in as many days cancelled it less than an hour before it was to have started at Rome’s North American College, where they are residing.

Cardinals say will not be rushed into electing new pope

(Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, speaks during a news conference at the North American College in Rome March 5, 2013.
REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Catholic cardinals said on Tuesday they wanted time to get to know each before choosing the next pope and meanwhile would seek more information on a secret report on alleged corruption in the Vatican.

Nearly 150 cardinals held a second day of preliminary meetings, known as “general congregations”, to sketch a profile for the next pope following the shock abdication of Pope Benedict last month.

Women deserve bigger role in Catholic Church leadership, says key cardinal

(Argentinian Cardinal Leonardo Sandri arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican March 4, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi )

The Roman Catholic Church must open itself up to women in the next pontificate, giving them more leadership positions in the Vatican and beyond, according to a senior cardinal who will be influential in electing the next pope.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 69, an Argentine, also said the next pope should not be chosen according to a geographic area but must be a “saintly man” qualified to lead the Church in a time of crisis.