An Australian Catholic School was forced to cover up its statute of St. Martin de Porres giving a young boy a loaf of bread after people noticed it looked like he was abusing the child.
Blackfriars Priory School recently unveiled the statue of the saint, which shows a loaf of bread that “appears to have emerged from his cloak,” and it was met with so much criticism that the school was forced to cover it up entirely, according to the Adelaide Advertiser.
But the sculpture’s unintentionally provocative design has had unforeseen consequences and created a flurry of activity on social media, prompting the school to take swift action.
Here are some of the statements made by people on Twitter who noticed the… unfortunate positioning of the bread loaf.
Just glad Blackfriars school noticed how suggestive the statue was before they turned the water feature on
— Ben Pobjie (@benpobjie) November 22, 2017
AN ADELAIDE CATHOLIC SCHOOL HAD TO COVER UP THIS STATUE OF A SAINT HANDING SOME BREAD TO A YOUNG BOY I WILL GIVE YOU 1 GUESS AS TO WHY pic.twitter.com/yMP691YZbX
— mat whitehead (@matwhi) November 22, 2017
After students reacted to the statue, and photos of it went viral, the school had to take action.
The Advertiser understands the school was forced to cover the statue with a black cloth after students took photos of it on Friday and by this week, it had been cordoned off.
The school administrators covered up the statue, and they’re in the process of commissioning a new one, but that doesn’t change the fact that they missed it in the first place. It’s obvious to see why it could be offensive, especially to victims of sexual abuse by clergymen.
Simon Cobiac, the principal of the school, said the controversial sculpture with the kneeling boy was designed in Vietnam and that administrators hadn’t seen a three-dimensional rendering until it actually arrived. Now, they have hired someone to re-design it, and apologized for offending anyone.
“The two-dimensional concept plans for the statue were viewed and approved by the executive team in May but upon arrival the three-dimensional statue was deemed by the executive to be potentially suggestive,” he wrote.
“As a consequence, the statue was immediately covered and a local sculptor has been commissioned to re-design it.
Regardless of the reasoning, this was a serious mishap that should have been prevented before the statue was installed at a Catholic school. It makes those who are in charge look foolish for not noticing something so obvious to everyone else.
I don’t think this statue was intended to be sexual in nature, but the people who approved it certainly should have recognized the implication, especially in the context of the Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse and associated cover-ups.