Bernini statue in Rome latest Christian heritage to lose a finger

Bernini statue in Rome latest Christian heritage to lose a finger

Church loaned out 400-year-old artwork to a gallery when the damage occurred
La Croix International staff – May 3, 2018
Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Santa Bibiana (1624-26)

Another piece of Rome’s prized Christian heritage has been damaged, with famed Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini suffering his second casualty as one of the marble fingers of his statue of St. Bibiana has been broken off.

St. Bibiana, a church in central Rome, recently loaned the artwork that the baroque master made for it in 1626 to the Galleria Borhese for an exhibition.

It was the first time it had been lent out in nearly 400 years.

“[They] requested the statue for a Bernini exhibition and we couldn’t say no,” Carlo Marisi, one of the church’s priests, was quoted as saying by

The right hand appears to have been damaged while workers were attempting to reattach the statue above the church’s altar sometime after it was returned, although the details remain murky.

The accident comes as a blow because of the especially fine craftsmanship reflected in the statue, with the curator of the exhibition describing the suspended and spread fingers as “a true miracle of technique.”

The broken finger went unnoticed for some time until a visiting art historian spotted it and alerted the authorities.

The discovery comes after another of Bernini’s sculptures — the Elephant and Obelisk in Rome’s Piazza della Minerva — lost a tusk in 2016 at the hands of vandals.

One year earlier, Dutch hooligans filled Benini’s Barcaccia fountain at the bottom of the Spanish Steps with empty beer cans and bottles.

In other incidents, a 600-year-old statue in a Florence gallery had its finger snapped off by an American tourist; a statue in the same city by Pio Fedi called the Rape of Ployxena has also lost a finger; and the Drunk Satyr in Milan lost a leg when a visiting student climbed over it to take selfies.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: