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Laura Bush Tours Fresco Exhibit

August 4, 2002

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LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ First lady Laura Bush toured an exhibit of centuries-old frescoes from the Vatican Museums on Saturday and encouraged others to see the rare art.

``It’s just really going to be a once-in-a lifetime experience for a lot of people to come to see these frescoes,″ she said at the exhibit at Texas Tech University.

The 31 frescoes had never left Europe or been viewed together before the showing at the university this summer. They will remain in Lubbock until Sept. 15, then will be returned to the Vatican and won’t be displayed again until 2025.

The frescoes largely depict the lives of saints and martyrs. Fragments of larger frescoes depict early Christian symbols such as birds, winged dragons and dolphins.

The Rev. Malcolm Neyland, who pastors churches near Lubbock, said Bush has the background to appreciate what she saw.

``Her visit to the exhibit is a reflection of her knowledge and her understanding of the arts and the importance they play on an international level,″ Neyland said.

Painted some 900 years ago by unknown artists under the tutelage of Italian artist Pietro Cavallini, the Vatican frescoes once adorned the walls of St. Agnese and St. Nicola, two early Roman churches.

They were covered by plaster in the 1700s and rediscovered and removed during renovations in the 1800s then stored in the Vatican.

Bush’s trip came on the eve of a vacation she and President Bush are taking at their ranch in Crawford.

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On the Net

www.vaticanexhibit.org

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