College professor recognizes 17th century masterpiece hanging in a nearby church

(CNN) A simple act led to an art history professor discovering a 17th century masterpiece that was thought to have been missing.

Church of the Holy Family is located just a few blocks from the campus of Iona College, and Tom Ruggio told CNN he would sometimes visit during the church’s “off hours” for the quiet and solitude.

Ruggio lived in Italy for about nine years studying art, and when he walked in the church with the lights a little brighter than normal, he couldn’t believe what caught his eye.