The Vatican has been forced to cancel an exhibition of a $1.5 million bronze sculpture by an Indian artist whose parents had paid for his college education.
The pope’s likeness is on the pedestal of the bronze statue in the Vatican’s Palazzo Pietro Nanni, or Papal Piazza.
The statue has drawn criticism from many quarters including the Vatican, the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee.
The Indian sculptor, Raman Singh, who is now studying art at the Catholic University of America in Los Angeles, has created the statue in his hometown of Chhattisgarh, in western India.
His parents, Gurkha and Nana Devi, bought the statue for $1 million in 2001.
They paid more than $50,000 for the work, and the family’s donation has been credited with inspiring the work.
They had wanted to use it for a museum in their hometown of Kolkata, but the Vatican and the Indian government refused to approve the use of their likeness for a public museum in the country, said the Nana Singh family’s lawyer, Dinesh Sharma.
He said he and his wife have now asked the Vatican to cancel the exhibition because they have received threats against the family.
According to Sharma, the family has received numerous threats against their life and property since they began the project.
The sculpture is a “living testament to the power of the individual,” the museum said in a statement, referring to the pope’s words in the first paragraph of his famous encyclical.
The sculpture was completed in 2015 and is currently on display in the U.S. Capitol.
It is also being used in other countries.
The Vatican said it would donate the work to the Indian Embassy in Washington.
“This sculpture is an example of the importance of respect and the dignity of the person, and a fitting representation of the dignity and importance of the family in the history of the Indian diaspora,” the statement said.
The Nana Sonas have been criticized in India and abroad for their actions, including by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“It is a terrible, terrible shame for the entire Indian diocese that we should have to do this to a young boy,” Guteres said on Tuesday.
The Vatican’s decision is the latest in a series of events that have raised concerns about the safety of the papacy and the use and misuse of papal artworks.
In December, the U-turn over the Vatican collection by the Vatican prompted accusations of cover-up and corruption in the Holy See.