Canada's 150th anniversary has turned sour in Ottawa after local Catholics took umbrage with a live robotics and puppetry showcase that saw a massive, water-spraying robot spider "crawl" down from the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.
Created by French performance outfit La Machine, the mechanical arachnid – adorably called Kumo – was part of a celebratory exhibition that saw both the spider and a robot horse-dragon placed around the Canadian capital between 27-30 July.
However, while the final climactic showdown between the two "kaiju"-like beasts that brought an end to the "Long Ma Jing Shen" performance was roundly enjoyed by most onlookers, the opening act upset a vast amount of the local Catholic congregation.
According to Catholic News Service, the organisers contacted the cathedral's staff a year prior to ask for permission to mount the 40-tonne beast on the roof of the building. Apparently thinking nothing of it, the church and its Archbishop, Terrence Prendergast, said yes.
Unfortunately after putting on a show where Kumo 'woke' from his church-top slumber by the cathedral's organ and 'crawled down' (in reality via a crane), the spectacle was quickly branded as "sacrilegious," "demonic," and "disrespectful", with the Archbishop suffering a tirade of angry posts on Facebook as a result of the stunt. The posts now appear to have been deleted.
For his part, Archbishop Prendergast was taken aback by the backlash and was previously hoping that the friendly neighbourhood robo-spider would show the church's "desire to engage with the wider Ottawa community".
"My cathedral staff and I anticipated that some ... might object, but thought it would be minimal, as nothing demeaning was intended in the spider being near the church," he told CNS.
"I guess we thought people would see this as a sign the church is involved in Ottawa's celebrations," he continued. "Many people, both Catholic and others, English and Francophone, remarked how pleased they were that Notre Dame was involved in our celebration of Canada 150."
"I regret that we had not sufficiently understood that others would see this event so differently. I say to those who were shocked that I understand that this would have been upsetting for them and that I regret that a well-intentioned effort to cooperate in a celebration was anything but that for them."
You can watch the behemoth spider awakening in the below video, which also shows the beastie's human controllers manipulating his eight legs in a superbly creepy fashion.