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St Peter loses keys to Kingdom of Heaven

Vatican authorities were searching yesterday for the left hand - the one holding the keys - of a 13th-century marble statue of the apostle in St Peter's Basilica after the hand and keys mysteriously vanished.

The marble statue is dated between 1285-1290 and is attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio, the same artist to whom many scholars attribute the more famous bronze statue of St. Peter seated in the central nave of the basilica.

The statue with the missing hand was restored in the late 1700s, and the stolen hand was a replacement copy of the damaged original, an official at the basilica said.

The hand, which he said was of little monetary value, was connected to the wrist of the statue with a tight-fitting metal rod. According to the official, a Vatican guide said the statue still had both hands at 3:30 p.m. The theft was discovered an hour later when a passing employee saw it was missing and alerted authorities.

The Vatican was tight-lipped about what might have happened to it, saying only it was missing.

Reuters/Catholic News Service
Statue Vandalized in St. Peter's Basilica (Catholic World News)
Arnolfo di Cambio (ArtCyclopedia)
Passing Through St Peter's (EWTN)

14 Mar 2003