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Saint Martin in the Church of Oradour by Jean Burkhalter, 1953

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Wall painting, c. 400 x 250 cm, facade above the entrance, signed and dated (photograph Kirsten Bras-Ykema)

Jean Burkhalter began his career at the famous ‘Exposition internationale des Arts décoratifs et industriels modernes’ in 1925 in Paris. His image of Saint Martin is the dominating decoration of the church in the new village of Oradour-sur-Glane (Haute Vienne) in France, which is a national monument. The new village was built next to the ruins of the original village, destroyed in 1944 with its inhabitants by a SS division. Saint Martin, as a Roman soldier, is the icon of Christian help to the needy ones and can be seen here as the ultimate counterpart of the ruthless occupier in 1944. This huge representation of Saint Martin is an enduring symbol of charity next to the world’s cruelty.