| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - A nude model resembling the Virgin Mary on the cover of the Mexican edition of Playboy magazine, published only days before a major Mexican festival dedicated to the mother of Jesus, prompted the company's U.S. headquarters on Friday to apologize.
The magazine, which hit newsstands on December 1 as ceremonies began leading to Friday's pilgrimage to the Mexico City shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, showed a model wearing nothing but a white cloth over her head and breasts.
She is standing in front of a stained glass window with the cover line, "We Love You, Maria" in Spanish. The model's name is Maria Florencia Onori.
The Virgin of Guadalupe, said to have appeared to a sixteenth century Indian peasant, is Mexico's most revered Roman Catholic figure and the annual pilgrimage to the Mexico City basilica dedicated to her is one of the world's largest religious events.
In a statement, Chicago-based Playboy Enterprises Inc said the Mexican edition of the magazine is published by a licensee, and the company did not approve or endorse the cover.
"While Playboy Mexico never meant for the cover or images to offend anyone, we recognize that it has created offense, and we as well as Playboy Mexico offer our sincerest apologies," the statement said.
Raul Sayrols, publisher of Playboy Mexico, said in a statement, "The image is not and never was intended to portray the Virgin of Guadalupe or any other religious figure. The intent was to reflect a Renaissance-like mood on the cover."
Playboy Mexico printed 100,000 copies of the issue.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Todd Eastham)