The Catholic Church of Poland unveiled a painting on Thursday that had been kept hidden since 2006, after protests from both Catholics and Jews opposed the depiction of Jews murdering Christian children in the classic anti-Semitic blood libel trope.
The painting, an 18th century CE work by Italian painter
Charles de Prevot called "Mord Rytualny (Ritual Murder)," has been
mounted on a wall at the cathedral in Sandomierz but hidden behind a red curtain for the past 8 years due to its contents.
For the Catholic Church's international Day of Judaism, it was
decided the painting should be shown to clarify the dark history of
A plaque next to the painting, prepared by the Polish Episcopal
Conference’s Committee for Dialogue with Judaism, explains how Jews did
not commit "ritual murder" because it is forbidden by Judaism, reports
the Polish daily Gazeta.
Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich supported the unveiling.
"It had a damaging place in history, it had a murderous place in history," Rabbi Schudrich told AFP.
"You know, Jews were murdered after such accusations were made, but to
cover it up I think is in some ways to forget or deny a painful past,"
The rabbi added "to uncover it, to show it publicly, is to show it
for what it is: a lie, a falsification and something that no one
believes in anymore."
Unfortunately the blood libel is still alive and well
in the Muslim world according to reports in 2013, where fabricated
stories of Jews ritually killing non-Jewish children to use their blood
in baking matzah for Passover still abound.
The painting is part of a series by the same artist depicting the
"martyrdom" of Christians, in a set of pictures portraying graphically
brutal images of torture and murder by pagans.
Poland, which had the largest European Jewish community before
roughly 90% of the country's over 3 million Jews were murdered in the
Holocaust, has been arguing about its history lately.
Last Friday, the country's opposition proposed a bill banning the use of the term "Polish Death Camp" on pain of fines and jail time, claiming the term implies Polish responsibility for the camps.
Meanwhile a Polish municipal prosecutor ruled on Wednesday
that Polish League soccer fans chanting "move on Jews," "your home is
at Auschwitz," and "send you to the gas (chamber)," was not a racist
Rabbi Schudrich concluded "compared to...20 years ago, we've made
tremendous strides, closening and deepening understanding and relations,
and we still have a long way to go."