French priest on trial for trashing rude fresco

5th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

5 November 2007, TARASCON (AFP) - A French priest went on trial Friday for destroying a fresco in his village chapel on the grounds it depicted Saint Luke as an ox with testicles.

5 November 2007

TARASCON (AFP) - A French priest went on trial Friday for destroying a fresco in his village chapel on the grounds it depicted Saint Luke as an ox with testicles.

The village of Saint Etienne du Gres near the southern city of Avignon commissioned a fresco of the Four Evangelists for the choir of its 11th-century Roman chapel, depicting Mark as a lion, John as an eagle, Luke as an ox and Matthew as an angel.

But parish priest Michel Cicculo took deep offence at painter Jacques Descordes' depiction of the bull's testicles, and of the angel as a woman with small, nude breasts, and in February 2006 he destroyed the entire work with a rock hammer.

Cicculo, who faces two years in jail and a 30,000-euro (43,000 dollar) fine for destruction of property, defended his act in court.

"No one has the right to paint such horrors in a fresco," he said. "I was quite happy for Mr Descordes to paint the four evangelists so long as it was a representation in line with true iconographic tradition ... not a vision drawn from Walt Disney or goodness knows what."

Defence lawyer Vincent Clergerie demanded his client's acquittal, arguing the fresco was painted outside of any legal framework and called for a 5,000-euro fine against the painter who he accused of staging a publicity stunt.

But the painter told the court that the priest's blasphemy charge was an "excuse."

"This is personal, it's just pure jealousy, personal hatred and the Church has nothing to do with it," he charged, saying that other local priests had condemned the damage done to his work.

A verdict is due on November 16.

AFP

Subject: French news

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