Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast has apologised to local parishioners who took offense at the brief presence of a giant robotic spider on the cathedral roof, placed there by the La Machine theatre troupe, who stage massive street productions involving robots and puppets (like the Sultan's Elephant and this amazing Jules Verne-inspired show).
I saw one of these productions in person, in Trafalgar Square, and was delighted beyond all words.
The spider was called "Kumo" and it performed in a celebration of the 150th Canada Day.
Other cathedrals across Europe hosted the spider during the show's tour without controversy, but Ottawa Catholics are pretty square.
The show opened July 27 in the evening, with Kumo "waking up" to organ music from inside the cathedral. As the spider, suspended from cranes, climbed off its perch between the towers, "snow" fell from above as part of the event's special effects.
"I don't understand how allowing a mechanical spider to stand on the cathedral is anything but disturbing, disappointing and even shameful," wrote Diane Bartlett on the archbishop's Facebook wall.
Others defended the archbishop's decision.
"While the viewer may find the juxtaposition jarring, I gather it's supposed to be," wrote Kris Dmytrenko. "But sacrilegious? C'mon, give your archbishop a break. This civic engagement with art recalls the Vatican's Courtyard of the Gentiles project. Culture is a bridge."
Ottawa archbishop surprised by negative reaction to robotic spider on cathedral
[Catholic News Service]
(Image: Aurélien Dury, CC-BY)