A Keepsake from my Baptism (2010)
(Rome, Italy; 2010)
Was an intervention carried out by Francisco Papas and Leonardo González in Rome as part of a curatorial project called Street Hacker that was organized by Natalia Arcos (Chile), Elena Bellantoni (Italy), Marwa Arsanios (Lebanon), and Soi Pappa (Greece) in the University of La Sapienza.
Considering the massive number of churches, steeples and cathedrals that Rome has, Francisco Papas designed and fabricated santitos, a popular term for stamped or screen printed cards that are handed out as keepsakes during baptisms and first communions to mark the occasion when a child or young adult is taken in and accepted by the ecclesiastical community or ingest for the first time the body and the blood of Christ. It is also very common to see these stamped cards with images of the Virgin or some other saint in stacks on the altars dedicated to various saints in the churches so that pilgrims and devotees can take them with them.
The artists created three different stamp designs, generating a critique of Italian religious society. In the first one, the image shows Christ surrounded by children. Behind him appears the phrase, “Let the children come to me because theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Below appears the name a baptized child who had been abused by a priest. In the background the name of the priest who abused him appears.
Immediately upon being placed on altars in various churches, these subversive santitos were found, without exception, thrown away in the trash. Church workers got rid of them post-haste in an attempt to keep a lid on the controversy the action aimed to provoke amongst parishioners.