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Michelangelo's work watches over Phoenix homeless

A couple embraces next to a replica of Michelangelo's Pieta, Friday, April 18, 2014 at the St. Vincent de Paul chapel inside the church's homeless food bank. The church's executive director, Steve Zabilski, says many people stop and pray or meditate before the statue every day and he is expecting more people to linger around it this Easter weekend. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX -- The spirit of Michelangelo's Pieta sculpture is being felt thousands of miles away from Vatican City and outside a Phoenix charity's dining hall.

Officials at St. Vincent de Paul expect more people than usual to sit before a replica of one of the Italian artist's most famous works Easter weekend.

Executive director Steve Zabilski says about 20 people gathered at one point on Good Friday in the 50-seat chapel.

The statue donated to St. Vincent de Paul in January 2013.

Husband and wife David Newren and Claudia Hecht have overseen the construction of a dozen replicas licensed by the Vatican.

The sculptures have typically been placed in churches or cathedrals.

Zabilski says people stop in daily to touch the statue and it helps with spiritual healing.

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