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Vatican arrests former employee for attempting to sell stolen manuscript

Vatican police have arrested a former employee for allegedly trying to sell the city-state a 17th-century manuscript by Italian Baroque master Gian Lorenzo Bernini that had gone missing from the archives, a Vatican spokesman said.

Experts said the 18-page document, with gilded miniatures, contains the first details of the decorative features of the marquee of St. Peter’s Basilica designed by sculptor and architect Bernini.

Bernini is considered the main master of Italian Baroque architecture in the 17th century and among his masterpieces is the colonnade that surrounds St. Peter’s Square.

The suspect, who was arrested on May 27 on charges of attempted extortion, worked for Fábrica de S. Pedro, the institution responsible for the conservation and maintenance of St. Peter’s Basilica.

He remains in custody at the Vatican and has been questioned twice in recent days, the spokesman added. Vatican prosecutors will decide next week whether he will be formally charged.

Prosecutors began the investigation following a complaint from the body and arrested the man when he brought the manuscript back to the Vatican, offering it for 120,000 euros (R$687,000).

The news was first reported by Italian newspaper Domani, which identified the suspect as a former head of communications at the Factory and said he allegedly tried to sell the manuscript to Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Domani said the missing manuscript was in the possession of the Vatican.

Source: CNN Brasil

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