Jewish Holocaust Survivor's Mosaic Could Be Lost With U.K. Church's Closure

The artist, Georg Mayer-Marton, fled to England during the war and created a mosaic of the Christ's crucifixion in a church in suburban Manchester.

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Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral at dusk.
Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral at dusk.Credit: Chowells, Wikipedia

It's an unlikely combination of circumstances, but the Catholic Church's bid to close a church near Manchester is putting a mosaic created by a Hungarian Jewish Holocaust survivor depicting the crucifixion of Jesus at risk of being lost for ever.

The mosaic of the crucifixion, at Salford's Holy Rosary church, was created in the 1950s and is described by the Guaridan as eight meters (26 feet) tall, constructed of stone and glass tiles. The figure of Jesus on the cross was originally flanked by Mary and St. John, but the two others were later covered over.

The artist, Georg Mayer-Marton, who was part of the art scene in Vienna between World War I and World War II, found refuge in England during the war, the British Guardian newspaper reported on its website on Sunday, adding that Britain's Public Monuments and Sculpture Association has warned the bishop of the Salford parish, where the mosaic is located, that the mosaic’s destruction would be “a very regrettable loss."

This wouldn't be the first time that Mayer-Marton's work is destroyed, as most of his artistic work was lost during World War II in the London blitz in a Nazi aerial bombing raid, the Guardian reported.

It may seem curious that a Jewish artist would depict the crucifixion but a number of Jewish artists, including Marc Chagall, have used the motif. In Israeli art in fact, the crucifixion has been employed at times to highlight Jesus' Jewish identity or as a symbol of Jewish suffering. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is currently running a temporary exhibition on the subject called "Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art."

For his part, Mayer-Marton's great nephew Nick Braithwaite told the Guardian: “My great-uncle, who was of Hungarian-Jewish descent, worked on this mosaic just 10 years after the war and losing his parents and brother in the Holocaust. It must have been very poignant for him to work on an image of the suffering Jesus.”

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