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Finding Faith: Is a papal symbol lurking in this WWII-commemorative mosaic?


Lucien de Guise

Lucien de Guise - published on 02/02/20

Prime Minister Winston Churchill is depicted opposite a demonic figure wearing a very unusual tiara on its head.

A series that looks at the visual arts for signs of the universal Church in sometimes unexpected places.
Among the less-observed treasures of London’s National Gallery is a series of floor mosaics that are trampled on by millions of visitors every year. One of them has special topicality at the moment. As the UK creates a new relationship with Europe, viewers might look to the theme of “Defiance,” as it shows Prime Minister Winston Churchill protecting the white cliffs of Dover from a demonic being shaped vaguely like a swastika. This is not surprising, as the mosaics were created in 1952, soon after World War II. Entirely unexpected is that the satanic presence should be wearing something very much like a papal tiara. This would probably not have been allowed if the great Sir Kenneth Clark had still been the gallery’s director. A lifelong admirer of Catholic culture, he converted to Catholicism at the end of his life.
Lucien de Guise
Lucien de Guise is on Instagram @crossxcultural. As a Catholic writer, editor, curator and former museum director, his aim is to build bridges through art.
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