Roman Mausoleum Under St. Peter's Restored

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- One of the most important monuments of the Roman necropolis located under the Vatican Basilica is restored and ready for viewing.



During a press conference today, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter's, presented the results of the recently-completed restoration of the Valerii Mausoleum.

The crypt, which dates from the second century and is famous for its stucco decorations, is located in the middle of the route through the old necropolis that leads to the tomb of St. Peter. The stuccowork was in need of restoration because it had been damaged by the instability of the microclimate in the necropolis and by earlier restoration using inappropriate materials.

The 10-month operation was carried out using scalpels, mini drills and, for the most delicate areas, laser equipment. Furthermore, by studying stucco fragments conserved in the storerooms of the Fabric of St. Peter's, it was also possible to recompose three hermae, square pillars of stone topped by a bust or head.

Finally, the monument was enclosed within a glass cover, so it may be viewed without affecting the delicate balance of the internal microclimate, which is constantly monitored by a high-precision computerized system. New illumination, using fiber optic cables, makes it possible to admire the colored surfaces, frescoed to imitate polychrome marble, and the white stucco decorations, modeled to replicate marble statues.