Tabernacle Damaged Near the Duomo

The marble base of a tabernacle on the corner between Via dei Cerretani and Borgo San Lorenzo crumbled under the load of a 15-year-old student this Friday, June 22 at around 10 pm.

The teenager, on a trip to Florence with his school, was lured up to the structure to retrieve an LED parachute-ball—one of the glowing orbs sold by vendors in countless Florentine piazzas. While the historical landmark, one of many that dot the street corners of the city, has survived the tumult of the 20th century, it proved to be no match for the weight of the 21st. As the young student hoisted himself up onto the tabernacle in pursuit of the flashing ball, one of the stone supports gave way and part of the marble base, reading “Ave Maria,” shattered.

His classmate, watching from below, was struck in the head by some of the falling debris. He was rushed to the nearby Santa Maria Nuova emergency room and treated for minor injuries.

Firefighters intervened to secure the damaged tabernacle, fencing it off from the public as open-mouthed onlookers snapped photos of the scene. Fortunately, the late 16th century painting within the tabernacle was not damaged.

The tabernacle-climber was detained by police for damaging artwork. Later, he was handed back over to the chaperones from his school. With a hurt friend and a blemished piece of history, it’s safe to say he has learned his lesson.  (tyler bunton)