Well, you get two posts in one day from me because I just read the Salt Lake Tribune and saw the story about the Church editing Carlo Maratta’s painting to cover up Mary’s cleavage. This was painted in about 1680.

Call me naive, but I really thought the Church was past this kind of thing. I mean, they just edited For the Strength of Youth to remove some of the micro-managing of female bodies. Nobody has given a General Conference talk focused entirely on modesty in … a while. Um, I guess those are the only reasons I thought the Church was past this kind of thing.

This beautiful painting is reverent, respectful and beautiful. If the Church hadn’t edited it to cover Mary’s cleavage, I bet no one would really even notice that the painting shows cleavage. It certainly isn’t sexualized. She’s breast-feeding a newborn baby; breasts are functional and maternal in that context, not sexual. Here’s the Church’s version:

Can we please stop acting like women’s bodies are inherently sexual? Please? This is entirely unnecessary.

EDITED TO ADD: I should have done more research before posting this. It turns out that Carlo Maratta painted more than one version of this painting, and the Church used the other version, in which the original artist left out the angels and raised the neckline on Mary’s dress. Jack posted a link to the original painting found on the Museo del Prado website and I’ve inserted the image below. I apologize.

One thing that does puzzle me though, the Salt Lake Tribune article said that the image was originally available on the Church’s website as part of a packet of nativity images that members could download, and that the Church removed the image from its website when the SL Trib asked about it. Perhaps the person who selected this version of the painting wasn’t consulted by the PR folks before the image was removed? It seems that an explanation about the different versions of the painting done by the original artist would have solved the issue.