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Austrian bishop allows ‘Jesus clock’ made from upside down corpus with broken arms to be installed in church

Martin M. Barillas Martin M. Barillas Follow Martin
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Bishop Hermann Glettler

INNSBRUCK, Austria, March 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Hermann Glettler of Austria gave permission for an artist to install a salvaged corpus from a crucifix that serves as a clock within the sanctuary of the historic Spitalskirche in downtown Innsbruck.

From the hands of artist Manfred Erjautz, 53, and dubbed “Your Jesus,” the upside-down wooden corpus projects from a mechanism on a shaft that is embedded in the torso. The severed arms of the sculpted icon of the Crucified mark the minutes and seconds on the timepiece. There is no clock face in the installation on the wall of the historic baroque Spitalskirche that continues throughout Lent.

A professed fan of modern art and supporter of religious art, Bishop Glettler is allowing similar artwork to be put in place in churches throughout his diocese.

Erjautz supposedly saved a 150-year-old carved wooden corpus from destruction and ravaged it for a new purpose. The repurposed image of the Redeemer was praised by Bishop Glettler, who counts Erjautz as a friend. Commenting on the piece, the bishop said, "The Cross is neither an arbitrary decoration nor a symbol of power. It must be reviewed and studied in depth. Manfred Erjautz with his Jesus clock in the church causes not only a new reflections on the Cross, but confronts us with serious questions about the essence of life."

Further explaining his theological take on the installation, Bishop Glettler said, "As time passes, the arms form the different constellations and the static body of the dead Christ suddenly takes life, which represents a moment of liberation from the Cross and an overcoming of death itself." Having the corpus in an inverted position also shows "the deformation of the human figure."

Bishop Glettler is not a newcomer to the art world. Before Pope Francis designated him bishop of Innsbruck in 2017, Bishop Glettler created a work entitled “Wounded Light,” which is a modern reinterpretation of the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He has had various exhibitions of his work at churches in Austria. The bishop’s coat of arms features a clock tower.

At Innsbruck’s Cathedral of St. James, Bishop Glettler permitted an artist to install scaffolding featuring an inscription that read: “So long as God has a beard, I will be a feminist.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, art in churches has the vocation of “evoking and glorifying … the transcendent mystery of God.”

“Sacred art is true and beautiful when its form corresponds to its particular vocation: evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God - the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ, who ‘reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature,’ in whom ‘the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.’ This spiritual beauty of God is reflected in the most holy Virgin Mother of God, the angels, and saints. Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier.

“For this reason, bishops, personally or through delegates, should see to the promotion of sacred art, old and new, in all its forms and, with the same religious care, remove from the liturgy and from places of worship everything which is not in conformity with the truth of faith and the authentic beauty of sacred art.”

According to Catholic tradition, sacred images that are damaged or beyond repair should be buried.

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