Revamped John Paul II statue in Italy critiqued as ‘uglier’


A view of the newly unveiled Pope John Paul II statue, in Rome, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. The city of Rome has inaugurated a revamped statue of Pope John Paul II after the first one was pilloried by the public and the Vatican. Artist Oliviero Rainaldi says he’s pleased with the final product, saying it matches his original vision. But it was criticized Tuesday by believers and non-believers alike for being even uglier that the original. AP PHOTO/GREGORIO BORGIA

ROME—A revamped statue of pope John Paul II in Rome, modified after complaints that it was an eyesore, was criticized Tuesday by believers and non-believers alike for being even uglier that the original.

“I think this version is maybe uglier than the first one,” said Graziano Pessini, 50, who came from Prato in Tuscany to see the new version of the statue, which was unveiled near Rome’s central train station on Monday.

“I’m a Catholic and I loved John Paul II, I really don’t like how the sculptor portrayed him,” he said.

The five-meter (16-foot) high bronze statue, designed by the Italian artist Oliviero Rainaldi, was unveiled in May last year, just weeks after the late pope was put on the path to sainthood—but immediately sparked controversy.

“This statue has a very big head, our pope didn’t have such a big head,” said 84-year-old local, Caterina Giustozzi, who lives in the neighborhood.

“The sculptor got it wrong from the beginning and his work really doesn’t look like John Paul II. Also, the pope seems to be frowning, what does that mean?” she added as she stood gazing quizzically at the bronze statue.

John Paul, who died in 2005, looks down on passersby, his head supported by a structure with no body, but a cloak to embrace those in need.

The harsh edges of the cloak—which previously had a box-like structure—have been softened in the new version, and the popular former pope’s head has been tilted forward to sit better on his body for a more humane effect.

Rainaldi said Monday that he was much happier with the new version, and some passersby were also impressed.

Jose Rays, 59, who was in Rome from Buenos Aires for a holiday, said, “I think it is a very beautiful statue, with a very deep meaning.”

“I’m a Roman Catholic, even though I’m not a churchgoer. I loved John Paul II and the statue has the same cute face,” he added.

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  • blainz

    I don’t know about the head, but the body looks like a peeling clove of garlic.

    In any case, the final judgement of this work will come from the heavens above.


  • arn_arn

    Naku magco-COMMENT na naman yung mga PROTESTANTENG KRISTIYANO nito..

    Bilangin natin yung mga Protestanteng magco-COMMENT…

    Watch Out… hehe

  • opinyonlangpo

    The great sculptors of Rome are all gone, they should order the statue from China.

    • sineguelas



    Why should the physical structure of this stone statue matter so much to these people? The Catholic Church teaches us that above all, statues are made just to remind us of someone’s life and virtues. 

    Just knowing that it’s JPII’s image should have stopped these people from referring to it as an “eyesore.”

    To arn_arn: Katoliko ako ah. Hehe

  • Jedi_Rayo

    I like the sculpture :) Rainaldi was able to express the late Pontiff well. A man of the cloth, John Paul II appears to offer the Papacy’s mantle of protection to everyone who passes by, as well as his warm, open, and cheerful stance. His 16-foot size symbolizes a larger-than-life feat as a leader, a true legend of a man. The absence of a pedestal reflected his humility, walking at level with the common man. His position within the streets amidst cars recalls his reputation as the most travelled pope. Lastly, Rainaldi’s preference to shun traditional and classical sculptures in favor of a modern impression perfectly captured John Paul’s modern approach towards spreading God’s word and spiritual leadership. 

  • sineguelas

    if you’ve been around rome and looked around at all the statues you would understand why the italians think this is an eyesore. i can’t believe that rome is putting this low-class statue along with the great ones created in the previous centuries. i know there are a lot of schools there with talented students doing classical art that can do better than this. why did they hire a ‘modern’ artist? hire a classical/figure sculpture. there’s a school in florence and even in carrara with students/ and or teachers that are doing figure art.

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