Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 16:51 UK

'Despicable' church art robbery

The painting is by Bernadino Luini
It is not known how much the painting, by Bernadino Luini, is worth

A 500-year-old oil painting by a Renaissance artist has been stolen from a church in Powys where it is thought to have hung for more than a century.

The painting, depicting Christ teaching, was taken from the chancel of St Peter's at Evancoyd, near Presteigne, on Thursday 15 May.

Dyfed-Powys Police called the theft "despicable" and asked for information.

It is by Italian artist Bernadino Luini of Milan, who was a follower of Leonardo da Vinci.

Church warden Olwen Morris said the church was left unlocked throughout the day and the painting was only reported missing when it was locked again in the evening.

"Someone went up to lock the church in the evening and the main doors were wide open," she said.

It's very sad that people will stoop so low to steal from the house of God
Olwen Morris, church warden

"It looked like they had made a hasty retreat."

She remembered looking at the painting when she was a child, but was not sure how it came to be in the church or its value.

"It's very sad that people will stoop so low to steal from the house of God," she added.

"We are shocked: it is a sign of the times.

"People say we should lock the church, but that would be the last resort. We have a visitors' book and people have said what a joy the church is.

"They are not going to defeat us. Why should some low-life spoil it for everyone else?"

Anyone with information can contact police on 0845 3302000.

Vandalised church is 'cleansed'
01 Apr 08 |  Mid Wales
Vandals 'destroy' historic chapel
12 Mar 08 |  South West Wales

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