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Controversial icon stolen from Catholic University

Catholic University of America

Catholic University of America | Facebook | Fair Use

Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP - published on 11/24/21

A depiction of the Virgin Mary and Christ, which has been denounced by some as a portrayal of George Floyd, is missing from the Columbus School of Law.

An image depicting the Virgin Mary embracing Jesus Christ was stolen yesterday from outside the Mary Mirror of Justice chapel at the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law. The icon—titled “Mama”—was installed in March as part of the university’s Black History Month celebration.

The image has become a point of controversy. Painted by artist Kelly Latimore, the university said at the time of installation that the icon, “was created following the death of George Floyd and is evocative of the Pieta—a mother mourning her son.”

President John Garvey wrote the university community saying in response to the theft,

I am sure that most of you have seen some media coverage relating to the image, hung in our Law School, that depicted Mary holding the body of the dead Christ. Many see the male figure as George Floyd, but our Law School has always seen the figure as Jesus.

One student, believing the image to be a depiction of George Floyd, has denounced the icon, calling it “heretical” and “blasphemous.” For his part, Junior Blaine Craig, told Fox News, “There’s a fine line between recognizing the innate dignity and righteousness of human beings that are made in the image of God and embracing brazen, progressive politics.”

A media statement issued by the Catholic University of America reads, “There are those who would like to see George Floyd as the male figure in the icon. That is not how we read it. The image represents to our community a good-faith attempt to include religious imagery on campus that reflects the universality of the Catholic Church.” The same statement clarifies that the university interprets the icon’s Greek letters in the halo of Christ are an abbreviation for the words “I am”, a title for Christ.

President Garvey denounced the theft of the image, saying the university should build “a culture that engages in thoughtful dialogue and debate, not the sort of bully tactics epitomized by this theft.”

Until the image is recovered, a smaller version of the icon has been relocated to the law school from campus ministry.

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