A Catholic school in Australia has been mocked on social media after it unveiled a "suggestive" statue of a saint and a young boy.

The statue portrays a saint handing a loaf of bread, which appears to have emerged from his cloak, to the child. But many people had a different interpretation and saw a more provocative image.

The design was widely shared on social media, with an Instagram picture of the statue attracting almost 3,000 likes, and became the subject of ridicule.

People expressed amazement that no one at the school had spotted the inappropriate portrayal.

"Like who the hell designed, approved and erected it and no one thought about it?" one person commented.

Satirist Ben Pobjie commented: "Just glad Blackfriars school noticed how suggestive the statue was before they turned the water feature on."

Following the online ridicule, Blackfriars Priory School in Adelaide covered the statue with a black sheet and announced that it would be altered to a more appopriate image.

"The two-dimensional concept plans for the statue were viewed and approved by the [school's] executive team in May but upon arrival the three-dimensional statue was deemed by the executive to be potentially suggestive," principal Simon Cobiac said in a statement.

"As a consequence, the statue was immediately covered and a local sculptor has been commissioned to redesign it," he said.

Cobiac said the statue was designed by a Vietnamese sculptor who had carried out other work for the school.

"The sculpture is a famous depiction of the tireless work of St Martin de Porres, a Dominican brother, for the poor and downtrodden of the 16th century," he said.

It is the second time in recent weeks that Blackfriars Priory School has made headlines. Last week, a student hoax letter about a fake biology exam resit thrust the school into the spotlight.