accused of war crimes in the Ukraine
in Bosnia - Miracle City or Fraud ?
controversial painting which shows the Pope blessing William
surrounds the fate of a painting by the minor Dutch master
Pieter Van der Meulen (see above), which portrays William of
Orange and his generals being blessed by Pope Innocent XI
before the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. As Peter Berresford
Ellis reveals in the Irish Democrat, the picture reveals
"one of the great myths of history" - how Orange propaganda
turned the Williamite conquest of Ireland into a war between
Catholic and Protestant. In 1934, a former RUC Inspector and
"extreme right-wing bigot", Unionist MP John Nixon (1880 -
1949) led a gang of Loyalists into Stormont where they
slashed the painting with a knife and threw crimson paint
over the image of the Pope. The painting was taken down and
sent away for restoration. It was never seen again, and
today is estimated to worth over £500,000.
notes, "pandering to popular ignorance was always a policy
of Loyalism": the fact that William of Orange was funded by
the Pope who funded his victories at the Boyne and the
Battle of Aughrim. And when news of the Boyne victory
reached the Pope and leaders of his allies in the League of
Augsberg, prayers and songs were sung in his honour in the
Catholic cathedrals of the countries, and as the painting
shows, the Pope gave his blessing to William of
of the struggle in Europe was between Louis XIV of France
and his ambitions to dominate Europe - supported by the
Stuart King, James II. Their opponents set up a grand
alliance at Augsberg which became known as the League of
Augsberg. among their members was William of Orange and Pope
Innocent XI, as temporal head of the papal states as well as
head of universal church.
hung in the Orange parliament unnoticed until March 8th
1933, when as a Unionist MP, Nixon rose in Stormont to
demand from the Prime Minister Lord Craigcavon why was there
a picture of William of Orange hanging in what he called a
"protestant parliament for a protestant people ?". His
immediate reply is not recorded, but when he did a year
later, Craigavon said first:
am an orangeman first and a protestant and a member of
parliament afterwards . . . All l boast is that we
have a protestant parliament and a protestant state".
He added that
the portrait was not his responsibility, it was that of the
Speaker of the House, no adequate reply was forthcoming.
Seven weeks later Nixon and his gang attacked the painting.
No action was taken against Nixon, and the matter was
quietly forgotten. As Berresford observes, one wonders where
the picture has disappeared to?
In June 1998, a
senior Orangeman, the Rev Brian Kenaway, a member of the
Grand Lodge of Ireland, asked that the British government
give back the controversial painting to help promote King
Billy as "an icon for both protestants and Cathiolics can
admire". He claims, remarkably, that King Billy's legacy was
not meant to spell "protestant domination over Catholics" -
it just sowed the seeds for miltary conflict between Britain
and Ireland for the next 300 years ! (2).
Democrat, August/September 1997.
Observer, 12th June, 1998.