SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — A long-obscured mural on Holy Cross church referred to by many locals at the “Googley-Eyed Jesus” is once again visible to the public. For several years, a strategically planted pine tree hid the striking, lower portion of the artwork. It depicts Christ, with large eyes rolled back in his head, looking heavenward, during the crucifixion. The upper portion, showing the resurrection and ascension, remained visible.
“I’m so excited to go see him,” wrote Amy Simpson Tavano, who posted a picture on Facebook of the tree coming down. “I’ve lived in this house long enough to see the tree planted, watch the tree grow, plot the tree’s death and see my wishes fulfilled. What a day.”
Artist John Laberge created the landmark enamel and steel mural in 1980. It didn’t become controversial until roughly two decades later when the church was undergoing renovations. Some locals and parishioners thought the image was “creepy” and wanted to see it taken down. Others thought it was a realistic depiction of their savior’s pain and suffering.
At the time, Laberge refused to change the mural but said he would not fight efforts to get it removed. That’s about the time the tree appeared.