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VIDEO: Man fined £600 for altar push-ups

Artist, Alexander Karle, completed the exercise on the altar of St John's Basilica in the German city of Saarbrücken in what he insisted was an artistic performance.

A video of the incident, which occured sometime between Christmas Eve in 2015 and early January last year, has been viewed 15,000 on YouTube.

It shows the 38 year old stepping over a cord to gain access to the altar area before climbing onto it without taking his shoes off.

The case was referred to a local court in Saarbrücken - a city located close to the French border - after Mr Karle refused an order by the General Prosecutor's Office to pay a penalty of £1,300.

The prosecutor ruled Mr Karle had disturbed religious activities and made an illegal entry in a church area closed off to the public.

The artist claimed he wanted "to study the links between religion and the need to conform to high standards of the time" and said the incident wasn't an attack on the Church.

He told Süddeutsche Zeitung: "In the beginning, the Catholic Church's emphasis was on non-materialism, that is, for instance 'It is not the issue of the Holy altar itself, but of what the altar stands for.' And that has changed.

"Today, we've got situation when material things are more worthy than people or feelings.

"I wanted to bring it to the public attention, by combining the two things in a way which hasn't been seen before and which could trigger a broad discussion."

Describing it as an act of "provocation and offence", local priest Eugen Vogt told Zeitung für Saarbrücken: "The Christian faith expects to be treated with respect."

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