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Monday, 14 August, 2000, 23:33 GMT 00:33 UK
Marilyn too hot for Mexicans
Marilyn Monroe
A screen icon, maybe - but not a religious one
By the BBC's Jon Leyne

A drawing which associates the image of the Virgin Mary with a naked Marilyn Monroe has sparked a controversy in Mexico.

Two men have been arrested for breaking into a museum in the western city of Guadalajara and tearing the drawing to pieces.

One of the most revered images in Mexico is the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Virgin of Guadalupe
Virgin of Guadalupe - one of Mexico's most revered images
It dates from 1531, when the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a Mexican Indian.

According to legend, her image was imprinted on his clothes - which are still preserved in a church in Mexico City.

There are copies in many homes in this devoutly Catholic country.

Protests

So controversy was probably inevitable when a cartoonist did his own version - replacing the image of the Virgin, with a naked Marilyn Monroe.

When the picture was put on display in Guadalajara, the director of the museum resigned in protest.

The arrested men are reported to have told the police that the picture, called "La Patrona", was an insult to Catholics devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico, Cardinal Rivera, has backed their actions, saying it was the artist who was to blame.

The organisers of the exhibition have warned that the protest could herald a new mood of conservatism when the country's new - devoutly Catholic - President, Vicente Fox, takes office later this year.

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See also:

24 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Monroe named century's 'steamiest siren'
05 Jul 00 | Americas
Mexican leader promises reforms
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