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Amazonian statues thrown into River Tiber


The man throws statues from the church of Santa Maria in Transpontina off the edge of Ponte Sant'Angelo

A video has been posted online showing a man taking so-called “Pachamama” statues from the church of Santa Maria in Transpontina in Rome and throwing them in the River Tiber.

The YouTube video shows an unidentified man removing the statues from the church before placing them on the edge of the Ponte Sant’Angelo and pushing them into the river below. The description indicates that the events took place on the morning of Monday, October 21.

The figure has generated great controversy since first appearing at a tree-planting ceremony at the start of the synod. A woman presented it to the Pope as “Our Lady of the Amazon”, but the photo agency Getty described it as a statue of “Pachamama”, an Andean goddess.

Fr Giacomo Costa, a synod spokesman, told a press conference: “It is not the Virgin Mary, who said it is the Virgin Mary?… It is an indigenous woman who represents life.” But synod participant Fr Roberto Carrasco Rojas OMI has insisted that the figure is a Marian figure. “This figure is the Virgin Mary of the Amazon, Our Lady of the Amazon,” he told Rome Reports. “It’s a devotion that started in the indigenous communities… They carved in wood an image of a blessed mother, who is pregnant.”

However, others argue that the figure can mean many different things to different people. Bishop David Martínez De Aguirre Guinea told reporters at an press briefing on October 7: “Probably, those who used this symbol wished to refer to fertility, to women, to life, the life present among these Amazonian people and Amazonia is meant to be full of life. I don’t think we need to create any connections with the Virgin Mary or with a Pagan element.”

Paolo Ruffini, the Vatican’s chief communications officer, said it was “a statue that represents life; that’s it”.