A painting of the Last Supper featuring a black Jesus will replace a Nativity scene at St Albans Cathedral to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
The Dean has agreed to install the 9ft piece of artwork on the altar after conceding that the church is in a weak position to preach about racial justice.
Titled A Last Supper, the painting reworks Da Vinci’s renowned 15th century mural by casting a Jamaican-born model as Christ.
The announcement came less than a week after the Archbishop of Canterbury urged the Church of England to reconsider its portrayal of Christ as white.
Justin Welby said Christians should also accommodate global depictions of Jesus which show him as black, Chinese and Middle Eastern.
Embracing this philosophy, St Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire is covering up its existing altarpiece painting with the high-resolution print which challenges ‘the Western myth’ that Jesus looked European.
It will cover up an untitled three-part painting of a scene from the Nativity, which shows the Virgin Mary and Child flanked by the shepherds and kings, until October.
Lorna May Wadsworth instead paints Christ as Jamaican-born model Tafari Hinds, which she claims is just as accurate as traditional representations.
The acclaimed artist’s 2009 piece made headlines last year when it was discovered to have been shot by a pellet gun by someone she believed disagreed by her portrayal of Christ.
Yet undeterred by this brazen act of vandalism, St Albans is putting the painting pride of place to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, said: ‘The church is not in a strong position to preach to others about justice, racial or otherwise.
‘But our faith teaches that we are all made equally in the image of God, and that God is a God of justice.
‘Black Lives Matter, so this is why we have turned our Altar of the Persecuted into a space for reflection and prayer with Lorna’s altarpiece at the heart.’
Wadsworth said: ‘Painting the Last Supper altarpiece made me really think about how we are accustomed to seeing Jesus portrayed.