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The Deacon's Bench

Earlier this year, at Easter time, a giant chocolate Jesus sculpture debuted in New York.

Now it’s back, to scare up some more attention near Halloween:

“My Sweet Lord,” an anatomically correct milk chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ that infuriated Catholics before its April unveiling was canceled, returns Oct. 27 to a Chelsea art gallery, its creator said Tuesday. This time, artist Cosimo Cavallaro said he expects the public exhibit to proceed without a problem.

“There is nothing offensive about this,” Cavallaro said of his controversial confectionary work. “If my intentions were to offend, if I did do something wrong, I wouldn’t be doing this. But I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Cavallaro, who received death threats before the April show was canceled, said the vast majority of his mail was in support of his six-foot piece.

“I got a lot of positive mail from people in the Catholic Church, people studying theology, people in monasteries,” Cavallaro said. “All kinds of letters and e-mails of support.”

The last show was criticized for its timing and its location. The exhibit, in a gallery visible to passersby on a Manhattan street, was set to open one day after Palm Sunday and four days before Christians marked the crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday.

The Catholic League, which led the charge against “My Sweet Lord” back then, said the change in venue to the Proposition Gallery and the exhibition’s new opening date would keep it from calling for another shutdown of the sculpture’s showing.

“We don’t approve of the piece at all, but it’s not something we’re going to protest,” said Kiera McCaffrey, the league’s director of communications. “This is much less an in-your-face assault on Christians, and it’s not happening during Holy Week.”

The exhibit, at the Proposition Gallery in Manhattan, will be accompanied by a set of chocolate Catholic icons created by Cavallaro, a group that includes the Virgin Mary and saints Francis, Augustine, Michael, Jude, Anthony and Fermin.

“After the cancellation of the show, it got me to look into the Catholic religion a little deeper,” Cavallero said. “I started thinking about the saints, how they were ostracized for their beliefs and then canonized.”

Cavallaro’s work features Christ with outstretched arms, as though hanging from an invisible cross. Unlike traditional religious depictions of Christ, Cavallaro’s Jesus lacks a loincloth.

Image: from WNBC TV, New York

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