England’s historic St. Albans Cathedral has said that in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, it will install a painting that reimagines Jesus Christ as a black man above its altarpiece.
The artist of the 2009 remaining of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, Lorna May Wadsworth, used Jamaican model Tafari Hinds as the reference for her portrayal of the Christian Messiah. The art also casts the Twelve Disciples as an ethnically diverse group.
In announcing the decision to display the painting, the Dean of St Albans, the Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John, said per The Times: “The church is not in a strong position to preach to others about justice, racial or otherwise, but our faith teaches that we are all made equally in the image of God and that God is a God of justice.”
“Black lives matter, so this is why we have turned our Altar of the Persecuted into a space for reflection and prayer with Lorna’s altarpiece at the heart,” the Dean of St Albans added.
Ms Wadsworth has said that the purpose of painting Jesus as a black man was to “question the western myth that he had fair hair and blue eyes”.
“My portrayal of him is just as accurate as the received idea that he looked like a Florentine,” Ms Wadsworth quipped.
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The move comes just days after the Archbishop of Canterbury said that the Anglican Church should “rethink” how it represents Christ amidst the Black Lives Matter furore.
Asked by the BBC Today Programme if the “way the Western church portrays Jesus needs to be thought about again”, Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Yes of course it does, this sense that God was white… You go into churches (around the world), and you don’t see a white Jesus.”
“You see a black Jesus, a Chinese Jesus, a Middle Eastern Jesus – -which is, of course, the most accurate — you see a Fijian Jesus,” the Archbishop went on.
The creator of the reimagined Last Supper claimed that “experts agree that he would most likely have had Middle Eastern features, yet for centuries European artists have traditionally painted Christ in their own image”.
Breitbart News’s James Delingpole noted, however, that the actual skin colour of Jesus remains a mystery, writing: “What colour was his skin? No-one can be sure of that… according to some theories, Hebrews and other peoples in the land of Israel sometimes had blue eyes and fair or red hair and fair skin. Others claim Jesus was much darker.”
Wadsworth’s Last Summer will be installed above the altar at St Albans Cathedral this weekend.
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