Officials offer rare peek of ancient frescoes

Associated Press
A partial view of the frescoes painted on the wall of the Ancient Church of St. Mary in the Roman forum, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. Italy's Ministry of Culture allowed media in Monday for a preview of a massive restoration of what experts call the Sistine Chapel of the VIII century, a series of medieval byzantine frescoes painted on the walls of this church over the course of three centuries. The Ancient Church of St. Mary was founded in the sixth century, in between imperial roman palaces. It was the oldest and most important Christian monument in the Roman forum. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
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ROME (AP) — Italy's Culture Ministry has allowed a rare peak at a €3 million ($3.8 million) restoration of medieval frescoes in the ancient church of St. Mary in the Roman Forum.

During a visit on Monday, a restorer in blue rubber gloves stood on a metal scaffold and took s a small paint brush to the dark clothing of a Byzantine Madonna on the walk of the church experts refer to as the Sistine Chapel of the seventh century.

The restoration project aimed at bringing the medieval frescoes back to their early glory has been under way since 2001.

The small church, built between imperial Roman palaces, is considered the most important Christian monument in the Forum.

The works is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

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