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snopes 21 March 2013 06:54 PM

Pope ordered statues to be mutilated
Comment: As a Rome visitor I noticed several times people commenting on damaged
marble statues accusing pope Pius IX. (or just an unnamed pope) for
ordering the mutilation of the genital area of all male antique statues
for reasons of pudicity. Trying to find out from where this rumor
originates I didn't get earlier than the moment when Dan Brown's "Angels
and Demons" was published. In this book this seems to be claimed on p. 126
(and maybe the following page) and p. 159. (Allegedly he explicitly writes
about hundreds of statues of Michelangelo, Bernini and Bramante. (Bramante
didn't do statues and the other two probably didn't build that many.)) On
german speaking web sites this claim is stated several times, in your
language this seems to be known as "the great castration", Google search
for "pius ix. statues" presents several variants.

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