St Albans Cathedral will be exhibiting a painting of Jesus as a black man to show its support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The temporary display will be available for worshippers to view when the cathedral reopens to the public on Saturday.

It comes as the Dean of St Albans, The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John, admitted that the Church of England is not in strong position to preach about racial justice.

The display is a detailed, high-resolution of Lorna May Wadsworth's painting A Last Supper, which will cover up an existing altarpiece painting which shows the Virgin Mary and her child with the shepherds and kings.

Ms Wadsworth's 2009 painting is a remake of Leonardo's da Vinci's famous 15th century mural painting for the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazia, in Milan. In her painting, Jesus is depicted as a black man.

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Lorna May Wadsworth's 2009 painting A Last Supper. Photo: St Albans Cathedral

Reverend John said: “The church is not in a strong position to preach to others about justice, racial or otherwise.

"But our faith teaches that we are all made equally in the image of God, and that God is a God of justice. Black Lives Matter, so this is why we have turned our Altar of the Persecuted into a space for reflection and prayer with Lorna’s altarpiece at the heart.”

The artist Ms Wadsworth explained: “Painting the Last Supper altarpiece made me really think about how we are accustomed to seeing Jesus portrayed.

"Experts agree he would most likely have had Middle Eastern features, yet for centuries European artists have traditionally painted Christ in their own image.

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St Albans Cathedral will be putting up a temporary installation of a painting showing a black Jesus. Photo: St Albans Cathedral

"I cast Jamaican-born model, Tafari Hinds, as my Jesus to make people question the Western myth that he had fair hair and blue eyes.

"My portrayal of him is just as ‘accurate’ as the received idea that he looked like a Florentine. I also knew that, from a previous portrait of Tafari, there is something in his countenance that people find deeply empathetic and moving, which is the overriding quality I wanted my Christ to embody.”

Places of worship were allowed to open for private prayer on June 15. On Saturday, many churches - including St Albans Cathedral - will be welcoming back worshippers and tourists.

Last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the Church of England should reconsider its depiction of Jesus as a white man.

But he said he believed in offering a more rounded picture of Christ, rather than throwing out the past.

The Archbishop also said Canterbury Cathedral would be reviewing its statues to see if any should be taken down.