'Miracle' fresco find in Italy's quake-hit village: officials


June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 12, 2009 at 2:11 PM EDT

People in the quake-hit mountain village of Onna, near l'Aquila, are talking of a miracle after officials announced Wednesday the discovery of a 15th-century fresco during work on a church.

The discovery came during renovation work in the village, reduced to rubble by the devastating April 6 earthquake, which also killed 40 of its inhabitants.

"While clearing away the walls of the San Pietro Apostolo Church on Tuesday, coloured elements appeared," Luciano Marchetti, the civil protection official responsible for cultural artefacts in L'Aquila, told AFP.

Careful probing uncovered a fresco of more than four square metres, he added.

The work, hidden under a layer of plaster, was the first to be uncovered by the shock of the earthquake.

It is particularly interesting to the experts because unusually, it depicts the Virgin Mary above the figure of Christ. The two figures are surrounded by angels gathering their blood.

"It's a beautiful slice of history that we have had brought to light," said Marchetti.

"We hope that the renovation of the churches will bring us a lot of other finds of this kind," he added.

The earthquake, in the central Abruzzo region, claimed nearly 300 lives in the region and damaged some 1,500 churches, many of them dating back to the Middle Ages.

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