Talk about the sacred and the profane.
The uninhibited contestants of this year’s Miss Bumbum beauty pageant in Brazil are in hot water after their bikini-clad recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, “The Last Supper.”
The photo shows eight hopefuls of the controversial contest that rates women's rear curves sitting down for a photo shoot echoing the iconic painting – which portrays Christ and his disciples on the night before his crucifixion – with the odds-on favorite to win in the central spot that Jesus occupies in the image.
According to several reports including the Daily Mirror, the photo has sparked anger among many Catholic and religious leaders, who called the photo “deeply disrespectful.”
The assistant bishop of Rio de Janeiro, Antonio Augusto Dias Duarte, said, "Women need to be valued for their role as a wife, mother, professional and for her intellectual and cultural qualities."
Diana Fegueredo, the Miss Bumbum hopeful representing the state of Ceara who sits in the center of the picture, voiced her regret over her involvement in the controversial photo, saying she has asked God for forgiveness since the image was published.
"I completely understand people being angry about it, because even I'm angry, and I'm in it. For me it is blasphemy," she told the Mirror, adding that being in the photo was part of her contract, but that she wasn’t happy about it.
"I feel really bad deep inside of me," she said. "I'm a practicing Catholic. Since I did the photo, my heart is tight inside my chest. I can't sleep, and I don't stop thinking about it. I've already asked forgiveness from God, and I ask forgiveness from everyone else. We went too far. We were part of a great sin."
Fegueredo was chosen to play Jesus in the photo because her derriere received the most support from people who called in to vote, making hers the rear to beat.
Danny Morais, another contestant in the pageant, now in its sixth year, admitted that she didn’t understand what they were being asked to do when she was posing, but once it was done, she was “filled with remorse.”
“God knows my heart and knows I wasn't being bad. I think we can be controversial in other ways, but not using God's name, not using a biblical story,” she said, according to the Daily Mail.
Father Clesia Vieira, from the Volta Redonda diocese of Rio de Janeiro, slammed the photo saying it had caused “great offense” to Catholics.
"Everyone's talking about it. It has broken the boundaries of ethics and respect, all in the name of money. This isn't creativity, it's the vulgarization of the sacred and is deeply disrespectful,” he said.
Cacau Oliver, the founder of the Miss Bumbum competition, told reporters the image was not intended to be “offensive to the Church.”
Now in its sixth year, Miss Bumbum is one of Brazil’s most hotly-disputed beauty contests.