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Rome Reports

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Ancient icon of Blessed Mother with baby Jesus discovered as Filippo Rusuti's work

Castel Sant'Angelo is holding an exhibit of this painting of Blessed Mother and baby Jesus. It is one of the oldest and most venerated icons by Christians for the Blessed Mother's protection. It is preserved in St. Mary of the People Church in Rome. 

It has just recently been restored. However, during restoration, they discovered that the painting is the work of Filippo Rusuti.  

He was an important Italian painter from 13thcentury Rome, along with Pietro Cavallini and Jacopo Torriti. One of his most famous works is the mosaic facade in the Basilica of St. Mary Major. 

Professor of Medieval Art History
For me, it was an incredible surprise. This is because it is very rare to find a signature on a painting or piece of wood from the Middle Ages.”

Before this discovery, the painting was thought to be by an unknown painter, conventionally defined by the critics as the Master of San Saba. This was because of similarities to this unknown artists' frescoes at the Church of San Saba. 

However, during restoration of the painting, Rusuti's signature was discovered. It is an important painting for historians in understanding Roman painting from that time. 

The director of Polo Museale del Lazio hopes holding this exhibit at Castel Sant' Angelo will draw more attention to this Italian painter.

Director of Polo Museale del Lazio
We do not know Filippo Rusuti well. All we usually know is he made the mosaic for St. Mary Major, a great Roman basilica. So we hope to shine new light on this great artist.” 

This ancient icon will be on exhibition at Castel Sant' Angelo throughout October till November 18.