17th century artwork stolen from quake-damaged church 

MILAN: Italian authorities are investigating the theft of a 17th century painting from a church severely damaged in a series of powerful earthquakes last month.

The national police unit charged with protecting cultural treasures said Monday that the 1631 painting "Pardon in Assisi" by French painter Jean Lhomme was stolen from a village church in Nottoria. The work was well-known among historians.

The parish priest, the Rev. Marco Rufini, told news agency ANSA that the thieves apparently ignored the risk of the church collapsing on them when they cut the painting from its frame, "adding injury to injury."

ANSA reports that authorities have removed about 200 works from quake-damaged churches.

The earthquakes on Oct. 26 and Oct. 30 collapsed numerous buildings in a region already reeling from a deadly August quake.