More than 100 Christians in Greece marched in a protest led by their priest to the public site of a controversial sculpture and demanded its removal. Why? Many Christians in the area believe the sculpture, a red, nude man with an inhuman face and large wings, represents Lucifer.
The protesters brandished icons and Greek flags and sang hymns at the base of the statue, titled "Phylax", according to the Greek Reporter. The priest even splashed "holy water" on the statue to "exorcise its demons."
Since its installation on December 5 near the Palaio Faliro marina in Trokadero, south of Athens, the statue has suffered two vandalism attacks. Residents of the Athens suburb have started a local petition to have the city remove the sculpture.
What may have sparked the controversy among Christians is that the Palaio Faliro Municipality named the statue the "guardian angel" of the South Athens suburb. Mayor Dionysis Hatzidakis, however, claimed the Phylax is not a reference to guardian angels as depicted in Christianity.
According to local parish priest Patapios Argyros, however, that's not true. In an open letter to the mayor, Argyros said, "The sculpture is a demon and a soldier of Satan that, instead of being honored, must be despised as blasphemous to the holy trinity. It is an affront to Orthodoxy and the Christian faith."
The artist who created the sculpture, Kostis Georgiou, disagreed strongly with Argyros in an interview with a local news outlet. "Who says that the colour of Satan is red?" Georgiou asked. "There are angels with red wings and red hair." Georgiou claimed that protesters were being led by "a hate-preacher." "It is supposed that the opponents are Christians but their soul is anti-Christian," he said.
"The work is independent of any approach to religious symbols and emblems," Georgiou added. "If they want to demolish, let them do it. If they want to burn it, let them burn it as they were burning books in the past."