Putin, Obama & angels with saxophones: Catholic church fresco depicts world leaders as Magi

An unusual fresco has appeared on the wall of the church of St. Anthony of Padua in the city of Vitebsk, Belarus, showing Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama kneeling before baby Jesus while angels play saxophones in the heavens.

At first glance, the painting seems to show a Biblical scene – angels playing on flutes, and the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus. But a closer look reveals a few details that differ somewhat from orthodox religious iconography. The angels also play saxophones and bass guitars, while men in business suits cower from their gaze.

And what’s more, the three wise men paying their respects to the baby Jesus pose a striking resemblance to the Russian and former American president, as well as the Dalai Lama.

“If we talk about the paintings behind us, we have panels based on historical events but also ones that don’t follow our earthly history,” the church priest, Father Vyacheslav Bork, told RT.

“And if we look at the painting in the middle which shows both the worship from the poor and needy on one side, and the rich and powerful standing firmly on their feet in the other, but there’s no need to look for any political subtext. The viewer will only see the truth that sooner or later all will come to worship Christ, both the rich and the poor, because Christ is the Lord for every person.”

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The artist behind the paintings is Vladimir Konrusevich, a native of Minsk and fresco specialist who has had his work exhibited in Belarus, Germany, Switzerland and Poland.

St. Anthony of Padua was a Catholic monk born in Portugal who traveled throughout Europe and died in Italy in the 13th century. The church in Vitebsk serves the city’s Catholic diocese, which forms around 12 percent of the local population. It stands in place of a previous church dedicated to St. Anthony which stood on the city’s Market Square since 1676, but was converted into non-religious uses after being declared a monument to atheism under the Soviet Union in 1961.

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