depicts the erotic visions of St Teresa of Avila are to try to have Britain's medieval blasphemy law overturned.
Nigel Wingrove, whose • Visions of Ecstasy was banned : by the British Board of Film :Censorship seven years ago, is to take his case to the Euro. pean Court of Human Rights on 27 March. He plans to argue that the blasphemy law . infringes on the rights to free: dom of expression guaranteed by the European • Convention on Human Rights, and should therefore be abolished.
But many would be outraged if the law were to be repealed. Although rarely used, it is seen to serve an important purpose in avoiding offensive misinterpretations. "Many mystics use extremely erotic language, but they do not mean it in the way this film is making out," Professor Mary Grey, feminist theologian at Southampton University, told the Catholic Herald this week. "Their idea of Eros is much wider; they mean delight, joy, love."
The blasphemy law, which dates back to the Middle Ages, applies only to the Church of England, and does not protect Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews, Muslims or Hindus. During the commotion surrounding Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses in 1989, Muslims tried in vain to have the law extended, and Mr Rushdie recently gave his public support to Mr Wingrove's case.
In response to his attackers, Mr Wingrove has said in defence of his portrayal of the 16th century Carmelite nun: "Anyone who reads her writings would understand how her deep love of Christ could cross over into sensual, religious ecstasy. The celestial orgasm is a matter of fact, not fiction."