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Theft of church painting has puzzled Belgian police

BRUSSELS — It’s probably not a lost painting by Michelangelo. It almost certainly wasn’t stolen by a gang of professional art thieves. But the disappearance from a Belgian church of a picture that a priest believed resembled work by the Renaissance master has investigators scratching their heads.

The wood-mounted art piece — “The Silence of Our Lady” — was snatched in the town of Zele last week.

Saint Ludger Church priest Jan Van Raemdonck believes it could be a Michelangelo and says an Italian art expert was coming in to authenticate it. But he says he told very few people about his suspicions.

Police have obtained grainy security video of a man walking near the scene before dawn with what appears to be the large, heavy painting propped up against his head.

The Associated Press