piece : obverse design : peasant-like man, in tasselled cap and slippers, kicking the rump of a senior clerical figure, in
robes and mitre, having snatched his crozier. The cleric has dropped his bible and aspergillum. Below the two figures, at centre base, a
shield of arms
piece : obverse text : "MICHEL.LOHNT.DEM.BRABANTER.KIRCHENSCHÄNDER"
piece : reverse design : devil, naked, preparing to extinguish a large broken candle with a cardinal's wide-brimmed hat
piece : reverse text : ".WEIHEPFENNIG.DEM.ERZHIRTEN.VON.MECHELN."
In this 1916 satirical medal the German sculptor and engraver Walther Eberbach seeks to ridicule the Roman Catholic primate of Belgium, Cardinal Desiré Mercier (1851-1926). As a focal point for Belgium resistance during the First World War, the Cardinal repeatedly upset the German occupying authorities by his published 'open letters' which criticised the behaviour of the occupation force. The Cardinal's high political and world wide profile meant that he was virtually immune from conventional sanctions (although he was briefly imprisoned in early 1915). Thus Eberbach, in the well-established tradition of the satirical artist, sought to humiliate his subject by ridicule and distortion. It is likely that the artist was specifically moved to respond following Mercier's condemnation of German military rule as issued in his pastoral letter for Lent 1916. The obverse text is translated as 'Michael pays back the church- desecrator of Brabant' and the reverse text as 'Consecrated money for the arch pastor of Mechlin'.