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An Italian artist stabbed in a church in Carpi amid controversy with traditionalists

A “crazy and unjustifiable aggression”.

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An Italian artist stabbed in a church in Carpi amid controversy with traditionalists

A “crazy and unjustifiable aggression”. An Italian artist was lightly stabbed Thursday in a church in Carpi, Emilia-Romagna, where he was exhibiting his works. The man who attacked him also attacked a painting that he considered blasphemous, police said. The diocese of Carpi, north of Modena, offered its full support to Andrea Saltini, condemning this “unprecedented act of violence” which occurred a few days before the Christian holiday of Easter.

The artist's works are exhibited in a church of the diocesan museum. Since its inauguration in early March, the exhibition entitled Gratia plena (“Full of grace”) has sparked controversy within the traditionalist Catholic community. The ultraconservative anti-abortion association ProVita notably launched an online petition, signed by more than 30,000 people, asking the local Catholic hierarchy to remove the paintings, including one “depicting our Lord Jesus Christ engaging in an obscene sexual act ". ProVita, however, published a press release on Thursday offering its “maximum solidarity” to the artist after this “crazy and unjustifiable attack”.

Also read: Jean-Eric Schoettl: “Will blasphemy be reestablished in the name of respect due to others?”

On Thursday, the attacker, wearing a surgical mask and a wig, entered the Sant'Ignazio church with a knife and a can of spray. His intention was to damage the painting called INRI (Saint Longinus), representing, seen from above, a Christ taken down from the cross and Longinus seen from behind, leaning over the body of which he hides the lower part of the stomach. The individual tried to attack the painting with a knife. Present at the scene, “the artist tried to arrest the man, who slightly injured him while fleeing,” a police spokesperson told AFP. The injury would have occurred accidentally, "maybe he didn't even know it was Saltini." The individual fled.

In a press release, “the diocese of Carpi thanks the police for their intervention and promises its full collaboration in the investigation aimed at identifying the author of this act”. The diocese had previously rejected accusations of blasphemy, hailing Saltini's work as a rare example of "true contemporary art with a religious subject." The paintings are inspired by episodes of the Christian faith, from the Immaculate Conception to the crucifixion of Saint Peter.

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