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American tourist smashes Vatican sculptures after demanding to see Pope Francis

People visit the Vatican Museums as they reopened to the public after being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in Vatican City, in May 2021. File Photo by Fabio Frustaci/EPA-EFE
People visit the Vatican Museums as they reopened to the public after being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in Vatican City, in May 2021. File Photo by Fabio Frustaci/EPA-EFE

Oct. 6 (UPI) -- An American tourist allegedly smashed two sculptures at the Museo Chiaramonti in Vatican City after demanding to see Pope Francis, reports said.

The man, who was described as in his 50s, visited the Museo Chiaramonti -- which is part of the Vatican Museums -- around noon on Wednesday and was told he would not be able to see the pope, Il Messaggero reported.

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The man then allegedly threw a 2,000-year-old Roman bust on the ground and knocked another down when museum staff chased him, CNN reported.

He was detained for questioning by the nation of Vatican City's gendarmerie - or national security force - and handed over to Italian authorities. The identity of the man has not been revealed.

The two sculptures were taken to a workshop where experts assessed their damages, CNN reported. Work has already began to restore the ancient busts.

"The two busts have been damaged but not particularly badly," said Matteo Alessandrini, director of the press office for Vatican Museums. "One lost part of a nose and an ear, the head of the other came off the pedestal."

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The incident came just over a month after two climate activists glued themselves to the base of a famous sculpture at Vatican Museums.

The demonstrators glued themselves to the ancient Roman sculpture "Laocoön and His Sons" housed at the Vatican, prompting staff to evacuate the section of the museum and seized seize mobile phones from "people present in support of the activists."

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