Mye falt i grus under jordskjelvet i L’Aquila og omegn. Både mennesker og bygninger ble rammet. Men når jorden skjelver kommer også ting til syne som har vært skjult. I landsbyen Rocca di Cambio, falt kalken av en vegg i middelalderkirken, og frem sto en vakker freske av Jomfru Maria og barnet.

But residents of Rocca di Cambio, a village high in the Gran Sasso mountains of Abruzzo 25 kilometres from L’Aquila, are celebrating the emergence of a more longstanding survivor: a long-lost 11th Century fresco depicting the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus.

«This is wonderful news at a time of so much destruction and sorrow,» Antonio Pace, the mayor of Rocca di Cambio, told The Times. «The appearance of the Madonna and Child is a sign of hope. Nothing short of a miracle.»

The fresco, in the church of San Pietro alla Collegiata at Rocca di Cambio – the highest of the Abruzzo mountain villages, at 1,500 metres above sea level – appeared when the earthquake which struck the region nearly two weeks ago shook the church, which lies at the top of the village, and the altar came away from wall.

«When we went in to check the damage we saw that the altar had moved, and behind the fallen plaster was the fresco,» Mr Pace said. «There was tremendous excitement, as you can imagine.»

He said the damaged fresco, which experts believe was painted by an unknown medieval master when the church was built, would be examined tomorrow by art conservationists from the Ministry of Culture in Rome.

Abruzzo ‘miracle’ as fresco of Virgin Mary and Jesus appears