Madonna delighted some and appalled others in Rome on Sunday with a controversial concert that included a mock crucifixion of the 47-year-old pop star.
The performance was condemned by some religious officials but received rave reviews from many of the 70,000 in attendance at Rome's Olympic Stadium, located about three kilometres from the Vatican.
During the song Live to Tell, Madonna — who is a lapsed Catholic — wore a crown of thorns and appeared against a mirrored cross.
Madonna's mock crucifixion, as seen here during a concert in Cardiff, Wales in July, angered religious leaders in Rome on Sunday.
(Yui Mok/Associated Press)
The scene, which has been included since the beginning of the tour in May, drew fire from both Muslim and Catholic leaders, who denounced it as an insult to the Roman Catholic Church.
The pop star's representatives have said the performance was not intended to be disrespectful, and many fans also defended the scene.
"She does it to play, not to offend," said Benedetta Mori, a 31-year-old fan wearing a T-shirt with an image of Madonna on the cross.
"If they allowed her to stage the show here, they must also play by her rules."
Sunday's two-hour show contained other religious imagery, including two dancers with a Star of David and a Muslim crescent painted on their respective torsos, who embraced and held hands.
A figure wearing a robe and turban played the shofar, a ram's horn traditionally blown during Jewish high holidays, before joining Madonna, who is a kabbalist, in a song about a 16th-century Jewish mystic.
"Two miracles have happened," Madonna told the crowd. "Italy won the World Cup and it stopped raining before my show."
The set-list also featured the songs Hung Up, Music, Like a Virgin and La Isla Bonita.
With files from the Associated Press
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