Controversial John Paul II statue will get makeover

The statue of Bl. John Paul II that stands outside of Rome's Termini train station
The statue of Bl. John Paul II that stands outside of Rome's Termini train station

.- The much criticized 12-foot bronze sculpture of Blessed John Paul II that stands outside of Rome’s main train station will be revamped.

“I made a design for the sculpture that wasn’t executed well in the foundry,” explained the creator of the artwork, Italian sculptor Oliviero Rainaldi.

“It is not that we have come up with a new statue,” he told CNA on Jan. 10. “We're correcting those details that weren’t executed well” so that “it will be more faithful to my original idea.”

The redesign will involve replacing the head, modifying the Pope’s cape and touching up the outer coating of paint, since the bronze has oxidized to a light shade of green. The statue will also be raised 15 inches on a new platform, and its lighting will be improved.

When the statue was first unveiled last May, the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano criticized it for bearing “little resemblance’’ to Pope John Paul and described the head as being “excessively spherical.”

The President of Rome’s Cultural Commission, Federico Mollicone, went further, calling it “a permanent and sacrilegious mud stain on his memory.”

The general public also disliked the statue. A poll in the Italian La Repubblica newspaper found that 87 percent of the general public did not care for the piece.

Rainaldi told CNA in a June 2011 interview that his avant garde design is intended to manifest the inner-life of Pope John Paul II, instead of presenting a life-like photographic image.

“The man within was more interesting to me than the man outside,” he said, describing a man who was “lacerated” inside “not only by his infirmity but also by his mission,” the sculptor said. Rainaldi added, “this man showed he was beautiful for others reasons beyond his appearance.”

The cost of remaking the statue will be covered by the Silvana Paolini Angelucci Foundation, the charitable institution that initially donated it.

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