[meteorite-list] Meteor Pummeled Pope Prompts Protest
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:46:24 2004
Meteor Pummeled Pope Prompts Protest
By Jeff McKay
May 11, 2001
New York, N.Y. (CNSNews.com) - The Catholic League is irate over an upcoming
event at Christie's Auction House where a sculpture depicting Pope John Paul
II being struck and killed by a meteor will be auctioned off.
The sculpture, entitled, "The Ninth Hour" by Maurizio Cattelan, depicts the
pope being crushed by a meteorite while clutching his crosier.
While Cattelan claims his work is simply "an image of passion," the wax
sculpture has stirred the passions of the Catholic League, which called
Cattelan's work, "one of the most incredibly stupid pieces of artwork we've
"Cattelan's 'The Ninth Hour' strikes us as being bizarre, but not
necessarily anti-Catholic, " according to Catholic League President William
Donohue. "What interests us is not so much the installation but all the
hoopla surrounding it. We are also interested in the extent to which the
artwork acts as fodder for anti-Catholics."
The image of the pope being struck by a meteor has already stirred passions
in Europe. When it was displayed in the pope's hometown of Warsaw, Poland,
two soldiers attacked the sculpture and removed the meteor from the pope.
The creator of the sculpture believes his work takes no positions, but is
designed to illicit thought.
"Originally, this was not thought of as offensive," Cattelan said in an
interview. "My job is to be an artist. I cannot take positions. Some people
will hate it, some will like it."
As for the Catholic League, their position is clear. "They're in it for the
bucks," said a spokesperson for the Catholic League referring to Christie's
auction of the work. "If you want to make money, that's O.K. But don't do it
at our expense."
While some anticipate that Christie's could bring in up to $600,000 for the
sculpture, a spokesperson for the auction house declined comment.
The Catholic League also released a statement noting that this is not the
first time Christie's has been linked to anti-Catholic art.
"It is well-known that Christie's, which played an integral role sponsoring
the anti-Catholic exhibit, 'Sensation,' at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in
1999, has been hyping 'The Ninth Hour' in search of another fast buck," read
The "Sensation" exhibit created a furor when one of its portraits depicted
an image of the Virgin Mary splattered with elephant dung.
The Brooklyn Museum faced daily protests by numerous religious groups, and
at one point, had its taxpayer funding threatened by New York City Mayor
A court later found in favor of the museum's decision to show art of its
Received on Sun 13 May 2001 09:08:11 PM PDT