Sydney cathedral unveils statue of Pope John Paul II

Sydney, Australia, Jul 12, 2008 / 07:03 pm (CNA) .- A statue of Pope John Paul II which stands more than six and a half feet tall and weighs more than 1,100 lbs. was unveiled at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney last Saturday.

A group of Italian immigrants in Sydney raised about $100,000 in a series of fundraising concerts to commission the statue from Italian sculptor Firenzo Bacci, the Catholic Weekly reports. It was commissioned in October 2007 and arrived in Sydney in January.

Monsignor Dino Fragiacomo, a local parish priest, said the Italian community wanted to donate a “beautiful and lasting reminder” of the Pope.

"Pope John Paul II meant so much to the youth and people all over the world," he said.

"The statue was donated to remember him and the renewal of consecration to Our Lady.”

"The statue is beautiful, mystical in its own way and I'm sure will be admired by those who come to the cathedral," said the monsignor.

Monsignor Fragiacomo said the Italian community has “nothing but praise for the statue,” noting that “Cardinal Pell has also expressed his appreciation.”

"My hope is that the statue can stand at St Mary's Cathedral for centuries to be admired by all."

The monsignor, who has been in Australia for 16 years, also oversaw the construction of the mountaintop shrine to Mary, Mother and Queen on Monte Grisa, Trieste (Italy).