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Vagina poem based on Lord’s Prayer sparks blasphemy row

A poem about vaginas read at an awards event in Barcelona caused one conservative leader to storm out of its reading and Christian leaders to file criminal complaints.

Vagina poem based on Lord's Prayer sparks blasphemy row
Poet Dolors Miquel. Screenshot from Baluarte Digital YouTube video.

Catalan poet Dolors Miquel has ruffled perhaps one too many Catholic feathers in Barcelona.

The artist read her feminist version of 'Our Father, who art in heaven' on Monday at the annual Barcelona Awards which are given out by the city for various categories, including literature, dance, innovative technology and education.

The poem by Miquel read as follows:

“Our Mother, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy coño (expletive for vagina).

The epidural, the midwife, bring to us your cry,

Your love, your strength.

Become by your will our uterus over the Earth.

Our day of every day, give us today.

And do not allow those sons of bitches to abort love, make war.

Liberate us! For ever and ever, vagina. Let's go!”

Many clapped and whistled as she finished her reading.

But not all appreciated Miquel's composition, with the head of the conservative Popular Party (PP) in Catalonia walking out before it ended, a Christian group filing criminal complaints and thousands now planning a demonstration against the poem.

The conservative leader, Alberto Fernández Díaz, wrote later that day on his Facebook an explanation for why he left during the poem.
 
“It is not a matter of religious beliefs, but of respect and here that was lacking with the recitation of a new version of the Lord's Prayer,” Fernández wrote. “With Catholics, people dare to be insolent about everything, but I am sure that her freedom would not be applied in the same mocking way in regard to Islam or Muslims.”
 
He added in another post that “freedom is not the right to offend”.
 

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He abandonado la entrega de los premios ciudad de Barcelona que entrega el Ayuntamiento. La razón es la lectura de este…

Posted by Alberto Fernández Díaz on Monday, February 15, 2016

He also told online newspaper El Español that he would ask the person responsible for organizing the programme to step down.
 
“What is the limit to freedom? Insult. Someone can defend abortion in many ways, but if she had not paraphrased the Our Father, she would not have these repercussions,” Fernández said.
 
Blasphemy or art?
 
The poem was part of an awarding-winning book published by Miquel in 2006 and she has read it publicly in the past without any controversy, including at the Oliva Poetry Festival, where “absolutely nothing happened” in response, Festival organizer Angels Gregori told El Español.
 
Miquel said in response that she did not intend to offend anyone and that the poem is not blasphemy.
 
“It is a prayer, in fact, about motherhood,” she said, according to La Vanguardia. “All of humanity come from a mother, a universal mother… It is also an ode to the dignity of the female body, which is not treated well in the Catholic religion.”
 
But members of the religious community across Spain were not pleased, with one group going so far as to file criminal complaints. The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers placed blame on Barcelona's left-wing mayor Ada Colau, announcing on Wednesday that they had filed a formal complaint with public prosecutor's office against both the mayor and the poet.
 
They accuse Colau of committing a crime for allowing the poem to be read, and accuse Miquel of committing an offense against religious sentiments.
 
Religious freedom group Mas Libres has organized a protest for Friday to take place in front of the Barcelona City Hall, saying they expect tens of thousands to attend to demand a “conviction and public apology” from Colau.
 
Other Christian leaders took to social media to denounce the poem, with the bishop of Terrassa Josep Àngel Saiz Meneses tweeting that it was out and out “blasphemy”.

The Spanish Conference of Episcopalians tweeted a picture of the Our Father's text with the caption “This is the way we pray the Our Father. The prayer that Jesus taught us.”

The often politically outspoken nun Lucia Caram called on Barcelona's left-wing mayor Ada Colau to “apologize to believers”.

This isn't the first artistic work in Barcelona to take inspiration from the Catholic faith in recent weeks. 

At the city's fashion week, the audience got a surprise when one designer debuted her line of clothing inspired by nuns, complete with habits and crucifixes.
 
Elsewhere in Spain, three women are currently on trial in Seville after they offended Catholics by marching in a protest with a giant plastic vagina in a manner similar to how Catholics carry statues of the Virgin Mary for religious processions.

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IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images

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