From United Press International

An El Greco painting stolen from a village church, tossed on a rubbish heap and thumbtacked to a Civil Guard wall will be restored and placed in safe keeping, a Culture Ministry spokesman said.

The painting of the Assumption of Mary Magdalene, believed to be one of El Greco's last works, was stolen Nov. 4 from a church in Titulcia, a village 20 miles south of Madrid.

"It is in a deplorable state," said Angel Vasconcellos of the Culture Ministry.

"The thieves ripped it from the frame, and it also has holes from the thumbtacks."

Police, acting on a tip nine days after the theft, found the canvas rolled up in a plastic sheath on a garbage mound about 150 miles from Titulcia.

"It was creased and wet," said Titulcia Mayor Delfin Corral, "so we asked the Civil Guard outside town to keep it until it could be fixed."

The guards put the canvas in a room storing muskets and cartridges, and later hung it on the wall with thumbtacks when reporters showed up to photograph it.

"We think the best place for it is a state museum," Vasconcellos said.

The painting had hung for more than 350 years in the church at Titulcia, a town of some 850 inhabitants. It was painted between 1607 and 1609 during the last years of El Greco's life.

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