Over the Christmas holiday, three topless protesters snuck into the Vatican’s nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square to protest the patriarchy by, among other things, stealing the baby Jesus, Reuters reports.
The women were from Femen, the feminist activist group known for topless, unorthodox global protests. In the past, they have interrupted a Woody Allen performance, protested at a Donald Trump polling site, and stormed the runway during Paris Fashion Week.
On Christmas Eve, during Midnight Mass at the Vatican, two of the Femen activists appeared in the nativity scene dressed as a topless Virgin Mary. The words “#Me Too: Assaulted By Church” were written on their torsos.
And then on Christmas day, another protester, identified as a Ukrainian “sextremist” Alisa Vinogradova, jumped a guard rail and darted up the stairs to the life-size nativity scene, reportedly yelling “Woman is God” as she was chased by a long-caped Vatican gendarmes. As Vinogradova reached for the baby, she was tackled by police, and restrained.
On Twitter, organizer Inna Shevchenko said Femen wanted to symbolically include the Virgin Mary in the #MeToo movement, and wanted to give her a chance to break her silence.
Shevchenko said they wanted to show, “A modern free Virgin Mary who speaks out against the patriarchal religious institutions and their centuries old practices of assault and oppression of women.”
Femen had previously tried to steal the baby Jesus in 2014, but that attempt was also unsuccessful.