US tourist breaks busts in Vatican’s Chiaramonti Gallery after denied Pope visit

A US tourist threw a tantrum and cracked two Roman busts in the Vatican after officials denied him an audience with Pope Francis.

The unidentified tourist, said to be in his 50s, was in the Chiaramonti Gallery on Wednesday when he requested to see the pontiff, Fox News reports.

When told he could not visit the pope, the tourist grabbed an antique marble bust and threw it on the ground, damaging it.

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He then damaged another bust as he ran from museum workers, who tried to apprehend him. The Gendarmerie, who serve as police and security in Vatican City, took the man into custody, Italian outlet Il Messaggero reported.

“The person who pulled down the statues has been arrested by the gendarmes and handed over to Italian authorities,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said following the incident.

He also said the busts were “minor works” and the damage was “not significant” but that the incident was the act of a “deranged person”.

“The faces have not suffered great damage, perhaps one of the two specimens have detached a piece of the nose,” the spokesman said, adding that experts will now examine for total damage and immediately work to restore the pieces.

The incident “shocked” the Vatican, which had installed a “complex and sophisticated” video surveillance system to protect the artworks on display.

The Chiaramonti Gallery, created under Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti, includes more than 1000 busts, statues and sarcophagi, according to the National Catholic Register.

Rome has suffered a number of acts of vandalism in recent months, including an American couple who threw their scooters at the Spanish Steps, causing an estimated $38,000 in damage, according to La Repubblica.

This story originally appeared on Fox News and is republished here with permission

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