The Church of Sweden has unveiled its first-ever LGBTQI-inclusive altarpiece on the first day of advent.
St Paul’s church in Malmö unveiled the painting, titled ‘Paradise’, on December 1 to create “greater inclusion and identification in the Church”.
The homoerotic painting by lesbian artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin is roughly based on Reformation-era painter Lucas Cranach’s ‘Adam and Eve’, which features multiracial gays and lesbians in sexual poses.
“It is with pride and joy that we receive Paradise in St Paul’s Church. We need images that open up for greater inclusion and identification in the church,” St Paul’s church said in a statement.
“We are grateful for Elizabeth’s artistry, which enables us to build a credible church that shows that we all, regardless of who we love and identify as, fit into Paradise.”
The pastor of St Paul’s church, Helena Myrstener, said she was was also proud of the work.
“On Sunday, history is written. Sweden’s only LGBT altarpiece (Elisabeth Ohlsson Wallin) is received by St. Paul’s church in Malmö. Of course, it hangs in the choir, next to the ‘old’ altarpiece. We are so happy and proud!” she wrote.
The artist behind ‘Paradise’, Ohlson Wallin, is known for her controversial queer art. Her 1998 exhibition titled ‘Ecce Homo’ in Uppsala Cathedral showed Jesus riding a bicycle in a gay pride parade among other gays and colourfully dressed queers. She also made headlines in 2012 after she recreated Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper‘ with a transgender Jesus.
The Church of Sweden, which allowed gay people to receive blessings in 2007 and gay marriage in 2009, has been a vocal ally of the LGBTQI community. St Paul’s church advised the clergy in 2017 to stop using male pronouns when referring to God.