One of the most important treasures of the Vatican's priceless religious art collection — a 6th century reliquary said to contain fragments of the cross on which Jesus was crucified — has been restored to its former glory.
Today, (Thursday) the Holy See unveiled the foot-high Crux Vaticana, which was given to the people of Rome by the Byzantine Emperor Justin II.
Restorer Sante Guido said the work had corrected 19th century repairs. It also replaced brightly colored gemstones added in previous centuries with a circle of of 12 large pearls, alternating with emeralds and sapphires, the two other gems most often associated with Byzantine emperors, he said.
There are claimed to be fragments of the Cross in churches around the world including Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. But the Crux Vaticana is considered the oldest reliquary of the cross. The work was paid for by an anonymous donor. It will be on display in St Peter's until 12 April.