Priest smashes "offensive" Evangelist's fresco

A French priest who destroyed a fresco in his village chapel on the grounds it depicted St Luke as an ox with testicles, is facing two years behind bars and a massive fine.

The village of St 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.

The fresco depicted Mark as a lion, John as an eagle, Luke as an ox and Matthew as an angel.

However, parish priest Fr Michel Cicculo, took deep offence at painter Jacques Descordes' depiction of the bull's testicles, and of the angel as a woman with naked breasts.

The priest destroyed the entire work with a rock hammer, AFP reported.

Fr Cicculo, who faces a $74,200 fine, defended his act in court.

"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."

But the painter told the court 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," Mr Descordes said.

Priest destroys 'ox testicles' fresco (ABC On-line, 03/11/07)

5 Nov 2007