Cathedral sculpture of Our Lady giving birth decapitated

Our Lady

The sculpture of Our Lady giving birth which was decapitated by vandals last week was blasphemous some critics say. So far, those who committed the act have not been identified.

The sculpture was scheduled to be exhibited for several weeks in St Mary’s Cathedral in Linz, Austria.

“The intolerance, backwardness and lack of enlightenment in the Catholic Church is frightening” says Theresa Limberger. She spent 200 hours carving the figure which is based on a concept of Austrian artist Esther Strauss.

Aggression and intolerance

The sculpture of Our Lady was displayed at the cathedral as part of the DonnaStage art installation project on women’s roles, family images and gender equality, the Linz Diocese said in a statement.

A guest book at the exhibition records visitors’ strong feelings about the sculpture.

“There were definitely a lot of verbally aggressive and disturbing notes” says Martina Resch, co-initiator of the project.

“I was prepared for verbal statements. However, I would not have expected that the work with which I spent so much time would be destroyed” Limberger says.

Controversial idea

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect of what is now the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, is concerned about the controversy.

“If a pictorial representation of the birth of Jesus causes offence among the faithful and causes division in the church, the aim of Christian and especially sacred art has been missed” he says.

Alexander Tschugguel praises Müller. He is an Austrian traditionalist Catholic responsible for the so-called “Pachamama” act of vandalism during the Vatican’s 2019 Amazon synod.

“I am happy that Cardinal Müller again defends the Church and especially our Lady!” he says.

Regardless of what people think, beheading the sculpture was wrong says Father Johann Hintermaier, the episcopal vicar for education, art and culture in the Linz Diocese.

“We were aware that we were also provoking debate with this installation.

“If we have hurt people’s religious feelings we are sorry, but I strongly condemn this violent act of destruction, the refusal to engage in dialogue and the attack on the freedom of art” he wrote in a diocesan statement.

He says Strauss also condemned the attack.

“Most portraits of the Virgin Mary were made by men and have therefore often served patriarchal interests” Strauss said.

Her artwork gives Our Lady her body back, she added.

Resch, a theologian, said in the diocesan statement that the sculpture “is a very poetic work that shows the natural birth of Jesus. Mary is shown in her vulnerability but also in her strength”.

She said that from a theological perspective “the work is a strong affirmation of God’s incarnation”. The statement added that she was deeply affected by the “brutality towards the female figure”.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , ,