Source Pravda.Ru

Virgin Mary bust stolen from Florida's gallery during Hurricane

An art gallery lost a Vatican - commissioned bronze bust of the Virgin Mary to a burglary during the height of Hurricane Charley.

Police are looking for Madonna Dela Pieta, based on the image of Mary in Michelangelo's "Pieta." The bust, said to be worth $25,000, was one of two pieces stolen from Inspiration Living Fine Art Gallery on Aug. 13. Also missing is a $3,000 work, reports Associated Press.

Police said the gallery's alarm system was triggered while Charley buffeted Orlando with 100mph (160kph) winds. The theft was not discovered until the following morning.

The sculpture is based on Michelangelo's famed sculpture, Pieta. Dawn Fleming, the daughter of the gallery's owners, said: "They knew exactly what they were taking." The bust has the Vatican's seal imprinted on the bottom of its base, informs BBC.

According to The Daily Review Sgt. Jason Martinez said investigators found no evidence to suggest that the vandalism was a hate crime. He said the statue, which was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed up to 1,400 pounds, was knocked over sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning. The vandals had not been identified as of Tuesday, police said.

The Rev. Seamus Farrell, the church's pastor, said he was saddened by the incident.

"It's hard to believe and, as a parish community, we're hurt," Farrell said. "The statue is part of the physical expression of our great faith and great love of Our Lady."

Farrell said it was not yet clear whether the statue, which was imported from Italy and has been at the church 44 years, can be repaired. He added that it was the first time in his memory that any act of vandalism had occurred at the church.