Rome’s (unfortunate) statue of Blessed John Paul II

Statue of Blessed Pope John Paul II (CNS/Reuters)

ROME — This week the city of Rome erected its first statue of Blessed Pope John Paul II. The Vatican newspaper said yesterday what a lot of people were thinking: it’s ugly.

Sculptor Oliviero Rainaldi intended to show the late pope with his cape billowing in the wind, as a symbolic image of welcome. The 16-foot-tall bronze sculpture was placed outside Rome’s main train station, where tens of thousands of visitors arrive daily.

But when unveiled May 18, it looked more like an open tent, or a sentry-box, or a bell, commented L’Osservatore Romano. The papal cape looks like it was split open by a bomb. More importantly, the newspaper said, it’s unrecognizable as John Paul II — the head is “excessively spherical.”

The newspaper credited the sculptor with trying to move beyond classic papal iconography and attempt something new and different.

“But overall, the result does not seem to have matched the intention, and in fact there has already been criticism,” it said.

In Rome newspaper polls, public opinion is running 9-1 against the statue.

While the Vatican newspaper has its critical artistic eye open, it might take a look at some of the statues placed in recent years in the outside niches of St. Peter’s Basilica. Although made of Carrara marble, they would never be confused with works of Michelangelo. Some are downright clunky.

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11 Responses to Rome’s (unfortunate) statue of Blessed John Paul II

  1. Katie says:

    Maybe the City of Rome will walk in John Paul The Great’s footsteps ~ by showing its humanity and admitting human error; by taking it down.

  2. Dcn. Channing Fell says:

    I agree, the “statue” has no “life”… it does not represent JPII and his vibrance and spirit given by the Holy Spirit. Holy Father, take down this stone….

  3. Diane Archambault says:

    I’m here to say that looks like a melted something, and as one said, they could always use it as a bus stop. It’s an insult to Pope Jean Paul 11, and the population to even have that thing in site. Are they professionals, or just caricaturists, making fun of our Pope…Please, take it down ASAP…Proud Canadians and respecful person of the FAITH !!! The POPE must be turning in his grave…

  4. T Pringle says:

    I think it is absolutely the most hideous thing I have seen in a long time. There is no resemblance to our late great JPII. But, art is unique because people have different tastes. If it pleases the people of Rome, so be it; whatever floats your boat, right? Next time I’m in Rome, however, I won’t make an extra effort to see the thing, that’s for sure.

  5. Jeff K says:

    The artist meant well but the execution is most unfortunate. It is a shame that he chose a “conceptual” style instead of one more beautiful and realistic. I’m glad that it was God who designed how people look.

  6. Matthew says:

    Geek Alert! I never knew that John Paul II was a Dalek!

  7. It hurts to see such an inhuman rendition of a man who was so intensely human, so present to millions of us. I hope they reconsider and melt it down.
    It’s abominable!

  8. Sandy Ricket says:

    I mean NO disrespect to the late pontif or the artist, but is looks like a urinal, at least in the picture.

  9. Dale Lund says:

    Easy come. Easy GO.

  10. Vero says:

    I know that art is a matter of personal taste, but in this case the artist took an unfortunate artistic liberty with a Pope that is loved by both Catholic and Non-Catholic alike. This piece of “bad art” will follow the artist career everywhere. It should be taken down and melt it. If the artist or the city of Rome don’t do it, I’m afraid that some people will take the matter in their hands and destroy it. This is totally hideous!

  11. Kerberos says:

    That could be anyone – or anything. What is Rome thinking of, to mistake that piece of Brutalist junk for a statue of a Pope -or of any human being ? The word “degenerate” doesn’t begin to describe such an eyesore.

    “If the artist or the city of Rome don’t do it, I’m afraid that some people will take the matter in their hands and destroy it.” I do hope so – ASAP.

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