“Face Of God” Upheaval Over New Burgos Cathedral Doors

The design for new doors at a Spanish Cathedral and Unesco Heritage Site – which include the image of God painted as a human man – has caused outrage among historians and artists.

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of Burgos in the city of Burgos in the north-western Spanish region of Castile and Leon is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and considered one the most important holy sites in the country.

Burgos Cathedral recently unveiled the design for its new doors to celebrate the 800th anniversary of when construction began in 1221.

The design chosen for the new doors was a project presented by renowned realist painter Antonio Lopez, consisting of bronze doors to replace the wooden ones with a series of images painted on them.

The central image is of God the Father with a human face, beard, and piercing gaze, on the right is the Christ Child under the Tree of Knowledge with a cross in his hand and Saint Anne behind him. On the left, the Virgin Mary is pictured looking ahead. Depicted in the background is the Garden of Eden.

According to the newspaper Nius Diario, the archbishop of the diocese, Fidel Herraez, compared the project to the creation of the Gothic temple itself, a Unesco World Heritage site since 1984.

However, almost 50 people, including historians, artists and art connoisseurs, have signed a manifesto to protest the project.

The manifesto called activists a “frontal opposition to such aberrant decoration, which is variegated and anachronistic, that will take away the prominence and harmony of the famous facade-front”.

The manifesto believes the change of doors “should follow certain channels more respectfully and logically, such as holding a contest under the supervision of renowned experts”.

The text goes on to call the design an “outrage” which uses “transgressive proportions for the supposed face of God the Father”.

The signatories have appealed to the national and international institutions in charge of safeguarding the world heritage site to analyse this “controversial intervention”.

In addition, they consider the budget of over EUR one million for the project “absolutely exorbitant” and suggested that there are many other improvements to be made, such as the poor heating, accessibility, and lighting, both internal and external, which are more urgent.

Painter Juan Vallejo also started an online petition  which has been signed by over 35,000 people.