Bologna Shrugs Off Talk of Planned Attack on Basilica

BOLOGNA, Italy, JUNE 25, 2002 ( Reports of a possible al-Qaida attack on a basilica here hasn´t fazed the Bologna Archdiocese, a Church official says.

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Auxiliary Bishop Ernesto Vecchi of Bologna commented on the news of a possible attack against the Basilica of St. Petronius, for housing a fresco depicting the prophet Mohammed in hell.

«To date, there have been no signs that would justify alarm,» Bishop Vecchi told the press. «This is why the basilica is open and services have taken place as usual. In any case, the diocese is tranquil because it is confident of the security system.»

According to Italian police sources, the attack was being planned by Muslim fundamentalists linked to al-Qaida.

As for the 15th-century painting by Giovanni da Modena, Bishop Vecchi noted that in «this fresco, which derives directly from the Dantesque vision of the Universal Judgment, Mohammed is in hell in good company, with bishops, friars and kings.»

He said the archdiocese is not planning to remove the fresco, generally considered a work of art.

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