Budget pastry purveyor Greggs has been forced to apologise for substituting Baby Jesus for a sausage roll in its limited-edition advent calendar.
The image was produced to promote the chain's Advent calendar, which contains a voucher for a different baked treat every day in the run-up to Christmas. "I'm glad Christians kicked off and Greggs apologised", wrote one Twitter user.
The contentious image, which we have reproduced above exclusively in the interests of news reporting, shows a sausage roll, partially bitten into, revealing the sacred flesh of the holy snack within the nativity scene.
A spokesperson says it's sorry to have caused any offence, and this was never its intention. "No other religion would stand for that nonsense".
On Christmas Eve, customers will receive a present of a £5 gift card - but some lucky ones will find a surprise £25 card that will be hidden in just a few of the calendars. The cover image features the Festive Bake pastry in a Santa Claus bag and bears the greeting "Merry Greggsmas".More news: Unity is collection site for Christmas boxes
More news: Qualcomm rejects Broadcom's record-breaking $105 billion takeover attempt (AVGO, QCOM)
More news: 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin hopes heartbreak of losing son can help others
The calendars will go on sale in selected Greggs shops across the United Kingdom from Monday.
Rev Mark Edwards, the vicar at St Matthew's Church in Dinnington and St Cuthbert's Church, said: "This seems very disrespectful towards the nativity scene".
A vicar from the village of Brunswick in Tyne and Wear told the Chronicle the Greggs had shown "total disregard and disrespect".
Comedian Bob Mortimer, who lives in Tunbridge Wells, tweeted: "Come on KFC.show Greggs the way. put a miniature Jesus in all your Christmas buckets". "Fans won't be disappointed by what's behind the doors".