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Rare statue of Virgin Mary found buried under church floor

Renovations reveal exceptional icon


The Virgin Mary cleaned up nicely (Photo: National Museum)

May 15, 2014
07:00

by Ray Weaver


A Limoges statue of the Virgin Mary dating from the 13th century has been found during renovations of a small church in the eastern Jutland town of Søby.

Archaeologist Hans Mikkelsen from the National Museum and a local craftsman were sifting through the soil under the church floor when they made the find. The icon would have probably sat atop a crucifix that was used in a church processional. There have been Limoges figures found in Denmark before, but likenesses of the Virgin Mary are quite rare and this is the first of the figures found in Denmark that has a halo.

Limoges figurines were produced in the French town of the same name from 1200 to 1225.

Spit and polish
Mikkelsen feared that the figurine would have been much damaged by the passage of so many centuries, but a careful and thorough cleaning by National Museum conservator Signe Nygaard restored it beyond all expectations.

“I could see the colours - the red in the halo and the beautiful blue-green nuances in the clothing,” Nygaard told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “It is absolutely fantastic.”

READ MORE: Amateur archaeologists unearth Viking gold

Nygaard said that it is “unbelievable” that such a rare figure was found in such a small church.

“How the heck did it wind up here?” she exclaimed.



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