February 1, 2011 / 8:02 PM / 7 years ago

Cracks force closure of Rome chapel with Bernini work

ROME (Reuters) - A chapel in a Rome church containing one of the last masterpieces of 17th century sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini was closed to the public on Tuesday after cracks appeared in the ceiling, officials said.

The statue of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni in the church of San Francesco a Ripa was not in immediate danger but access to the chapel was blocked by red and white warning tape.

Another chapel was also put off limits, as was the sacristy. The church remained open, meaning the statue could still be seen, although not as close-up as before.

The white marble statue, which shows Ludovica in a moment of religious ecstasy on her deathbed, was one of Bernini’s last works. He began it when he was 71.

There has been growing concern over the state of Italy’s art treasures in recent months.

Last year, several parts of the archeological site of Pompeii, in southern Italy, and sections of mortar at the Colosseum in Rome collapsed.

Luxury shoemaker Tod’s is funding a $34 million restoration of the Colosseum.

Reporting by Roberto Landucci and Max Rossi; editing by Andrew Roche

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