Fresco in Cathedral church of the Diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia
depicts Jesus lifting nets full of prostitutes,
homosexuals, and other lascivious characters, into heaven.
Theology of the Body Studies.
The work is incredible - I like it very much - but of course, I paint, and I'm a bit more open to such things. That said, it's pretty gay, and I expect many will be disturbed by the content. "Erotic" content, as the artist pointed out: “In this case, there was not – in this sense – a sexual intention, but erotic, yes,” said Cinalli. “I think that the erotic aspect is the most notable among the people inside the nets.”
The Lifesite article pretty much emphasizes the homosexuality of the Argentine artist Ricardo Cinalli commissioned by Bishop Paglia and Fr. Fabio Leonardis to do the mural. Cinalli explains that he was guided at every step by the two priests, saying: “There was no detail that was done freely, at random. Everything was analyzed. Everything was discussed. They never allowed me to work on my own.”
That would drive me nuts. The artist deserves time off purgatory for having endured that.
The angels are kind of skinhead looking.
Lifesite also seems to suggest something queer about Paglia and Leonardis. I can see why, yet the composition is nonetheless very compelling - Christ rescuing sinners - as Today's Gospel of the call of Matthew reminds us, "I have not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners." The fresco is on the inner wall of the Cathedral's facade, so in some sense, one is leaving that sinful life behind as one approaches the sacraments. Christ, the fisher of men, pulls in the nets of salvation - filled with sinners, including the bishop and the priest. It's a stunning allegory, very much in accord with the concept of mercy, going out to the peripheries, as proclaimed by the Franciscan papacy.
I don't see it as something scandalous, though I can understand while some who believe the Church is being undermined by homosexuals, modernists, and liberals would be. I think of the scandal the Sistine Chapel caused when it was first completed, because of the nudity and the churchmen depicted in hell, and so on. I'm not sure that there is anything ideologically subversive in the Terni fresco, albeit disturbing for the 'erotic' content - not explicit of course - more at intent. In Italian art there is a great deal of nudity, much of it in churches. It too can be considered erotic.
Knowing a bit about art history might quell the fears of some who appear to be scandalized by the work. The nudity in the work of Luca Signorelli's Orvieto frescoes comes to mind. Critics point out that the model for Christ in the Terni fresco was a gay hairdresser. So what? Throughout history artists have used models of 'ill repute', therefore I don't understand the problem. And who knows, maybe the gay hairdresser is a former homo - living a chaste and celibate life now? The critics are also scandalized that 'Christ's private parts' can be seen through his clothing. It's not as if we've never seen it before. Fra Angelico did that too, along with many other painters throughout history. In art, on one level at least, it demonstrates that Christ was truly man and truly God.
So anyway - I like the work - but it is a bit queer... not that there is anything wrong with that.
The only Catholic thing lacking is any reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
That's Fr. Fabio with the heart on.