Jesus is an All Black painting on show

20:19, Sep 21 2011
KIWI ICON: Dean Frank Nelson  with the portrait of Jesus as an All Black.
KIWI ICON: Dean Frank Nelson with the portrait of Jesus as an All Black.

Some fans might think Dan Carter is a god – so isn't it only logical that Jesus would come back as an All Black?

The icon-style image of Jesus as a New Zealand rugby great is now proudly on display at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, featuring Christ in the famous black jersey.

"Central to Christian belief is the fact that God became a human being, he became a man," cathedral dean the Very Rev Frank Nelson said.

"We often call New Zealanders God's own, so it would be completely logical that if Jesus did come back he would be an All Black.

"It's painted in the very traditional Orthodox Christian style of painting, designed as an aid to prayer, so the idea is that it engages your attention but then takes you beyond the painting to God."

While the painting had shocked some people, Mr Nelson said it had set him thinking about the very real possibility of Jesus being reborn.

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"I think you could be offended by it, I think you could be angered by it, I think it could bring a smile to some faces. My response is to just think about it."

And Piri Weepu might be interested to know that Mr Nelson reckons Jesus would be a halfback. "He'd have to be a scrum-half, he's the one that puts the ball in, definitely."

Artist Don Little, 80, said he had painted the piece after wondering whether rugby had become the new religion in a country that had largely turned away from the faith.

"The word 'icon' is being flashed around everywhere nowadays, so I just thought, `What is a New Zealand icon?' It's a tongue-in-cheek way of saying well, here we go, our icon is football. We pay more attention to football than most things, don't we?"

Passerby Chris Howell, 60, said the icon was a lot more tasteful than Te Papa's "very rude" Virgin in a Condom exhibition.

"It was not art, whereas this exhibit is subtle." He had no qualms about the icon being on sale for $3000, and thought Jesus would have made a good front-rower.

"He had all the brains and was surrounded by tough guys."

The painting will be on display for the next few weeks before going on sale.

The Dominion Post