Rare look given of ancient frescoes

The frescoes painted on the wall of the ancient Church of St. Mary in the Roman Forum were open for a preview recently as part of a massive restoration.

ROME — Italy’s Culture Ministry has allowed a rare peek at a $3.8 million restoration of medieval frescoes in the ancient Church of St. Mary in the Roman Forum.

During a recent visit, a restorer in blue rubber gloves stood on a metal scaffold and took a small paint brush to the dark clothing of a Byzantine Madonna on the walk of the church that experts refer to as the Sistine Chapel of the seventh century.

The restoration project aimed at bringing the medieval frescoes back to their early glory has been under way since 2001.

The small church, built between imperial Roman palaces, is considered the most important Christian monument in the Forum.

The work is expected to be complete by the end of 2013.