Surfing Madonna Makes Waves in California

Is it inspirational or sacrilegious?
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted May 2, 2011 2:35 AM CDT
The 'Surfing Madonna' installed by a mystery artist in Encinitas is drawing hordes of fans.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – A mystery mosaic of a surfing Madonna is roiling the waters in suburban San Diego. Most love the sporty beach gal while city officials worry about those who find the vivid "vandalism" offensive. The 10-foot-square stained-glass mosaic with the message "Save the Ocean" appeared overnight on a wall beneath a train bridge in Encinitas. "It's great representation of God being close to us," said a local Catholic priest, who gushed about the "inspirational" artwork. But other Catholics are offended by the image, says a local councilmember who has received complaints.

Officials are worried that such a religious symbol will invite lawsuits. "If we don’t take this down—if someone puts a loving, glowing mosaic of Hitler or Osama bin Laden across the street—then how could we take that one down?” asked the councilman. The mosaic is mounted on plasterboard so it can be removed without harming it. But if the artist comes forward to claim it, he or she could face stiff fines for defacing public property, reports the San Diego Union Tribune.

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