Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Blood and sperm

An exhibition in the once-red city of Bologna has been closed after complaints of abominable blasphemy from the catholic church. The offending collective was named La Madonna Piange Sperma (The Madonna Weeps Sperm). This would be unremarkable if the reference were to Mrs Ritchie née Ciccone, who has surely done this and everything else that can conceivably be done with sperm, bar produce it herself. But, rather naughtily, it isn't. As the original Madonna's representatives on earth, the local Bishop and various other ecclesiastical (and not) bigwigs have huffed and puffed and the show has duly been taken down. The organizers have managed to defend the right of art to say whatever it pleases while rubbing their foreheads on the ground in abject apology. The church has staged an expiatory mass, the high camp solution to gross offence. And so everybody's happy.

Oddly enough, when a garden statue of the Madonna wept blood some years ago in Civitavecchia, blood that was subsequently analysed as male, the church was more circumspect. I quote from a site called Visions of Jesus Christ:

The city's bishop, Monsignor Girolamo Grillo, said the statue cried in his hands.

"We have not proclaimed that the tear-shedding of the Madonna was miraculous," Grillo told the ANSA news agency Sunday. "But the facts speak for themselves." Corriere quoted the Rev. Stefano De Fiores, a Madonna scholar and professor at the Vatican's Gregorian University, as concluding: "There's the hand of God here."

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