Pope Francis, Dr Ahmad Al Tayyeb and Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed look at versions of the Quran, Bible and Torah on loan from the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Seen with Mohammad Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism and Abu Dhabi Executive Council Member. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: A pair of rare artworks that will soon be displayed at the iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi were unveiled during Pope Francis’ historic tour to the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism has announced.

The pieces — a statue of Christ showing his wounds, and pages from the famous Blue Quran — were shown to Francis and Dr Ahmad Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, during their private viewing of the museum's collection with His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The pieces — a statue of Christ showing his wounds, and pages from the famous Blue Quran — were shown to Francis and Dr Ahmad Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, during their private visit to the museum with His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

“It has been a great honour for Abu Dhabi to host the Human Fraternity Conference in the presence of two of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders. The unveiling of these two rare artworks, each representing a different faith, only served to enhance the theme of the conference — that openness and cultural dialogue are essential tools for building positive intercultural and interfaith relations,” said Mohammad Al Mubarak, chairman at the Department.

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The statue of the Messiah, entitled ‘Christ shows his wounds’, will be a permanent addition to the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection. It is a 16th century, life-size wooden sculpture produced in Germany or Austria, and depicts Christ carrying a crown of thorns while displaying his open wounds. It is believed to have been carved in the late Gothic period as a late artistic expression of the Christian faith.

Meanwhile, the four pages of the Blue Quran manuscript are a private loan to the Louvre Abu Dhabi from the Zayed National Museum’s collection.

The North African manuscript is characterised by its gilded letters in Kufic script, inscribed on a unique blue dyed-parchment.

Historians believe it was created for a wealthy patron because of the luxurious materials used.

Since its opening in November 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has had a leaf of the Blue Quran on display in its Gallery of Universal Religions; this unveiling will mean that more of the renowned artefact will be available for public viewing from next week onwards.

The Gallery, which highlights the similarities between different world religions by placing their art alongside one another, was the main focus of Francis’ viewing of the Louvre Abu Dhabi collection.

He returned to Rome on Tuesday, but during his momentous trip, the head of the Catholic Church toured an iconic Abu Dhabi structure, the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque.