I love a good spin on the classics, especially when things are done with tongue in cheek.
As someone who grew up outside of Italy, I have a sense of detatchment about the iconography and the church. I studied art history at university and can marvel at the beauty of art and architecture which was created in line with religious purposes and idealogy, but that is where I draw the line.
In Italy, Italians aren't as religious as the world would have you believe. It's just that the ubiquity of imagery, centuries of tradition and the looming influence of the Vatican continue to hold what is ostensibly a political hold over the country.
A recent furore here erupted with the widely publicised ''news'' that the Vatican, even during these times of financial crisis, receives tax breaks and benefits that estimates amount to up to 3 billion euro per year. This is largely because as a ''non commercial'' entity it is free from taxation. Sounds good in principle, but the non commercial business activities go far and beyond what one might expect from a religious organisation; beyond the schools, churches and clinics, a little searching will reveal that the Vatican's fortune comes largely from revenue deriven from commercial leases of its extensive real estate portfolio; retail stores, apartment complexes, hotels...all of which are done tax free.
There is a resentment that the Vatican profits from a portion of what taxes Italians actually do pay, especially when the Vatican is seen to use its economic and social might to help control and steer government policy in the same way that Conservative groups do throughout the Western World.
How this will turn out, no one knows. A rather brilliant editorial piece in recent days spelt out the machinations of the government's current approach to its economic woes. When commerce and spirituality meet, things usually get ugly, same for when they collide with government.
Thank God (sorry), that we always have the stand alone nature of icononography to fall back on.