The new statue of Pope John Paul II, unveiled at Rome's Termini station on May 18, on what would have been the pope's 91st birthday, has met with disdain. Designed and made by artist Oliviero Rainaldi, the design for the statue got the green light from a Vatican culture commission last year when it approved a sketch, which many now say has little resemblance to the actual sculpture that was eventually unveiled.
The statue has politicians, tourists, locals and even the Vatican's daily newspaper, Osservatore Romano, abuzz with disapproval.
The five-metre bronze statue, located outside of Termini's main entrance, features the late pontiff sweeping open his cape. The statue was meant to highlight the beloved pope's all-embracing nature, says the artist, who told Italian media that many had probably ‘misunderstood' the concept.
Journalist at the Osservatore Romano, Sandro Barbagallo, argued that the statue bears ‘only a slight resemblance' to the Polish pope, who was beatified in Rome on May 1. ‘We find ourselves confronted by a violent gash, like a bomb, consisting of a cloak resembling a sentry box topped by an overly round pope's head that is tiny in comparison,' said the journalist.
Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno was also displeased with the statue, saying he may launch an online vote to gauge the public opinion on the large work: ‘If public opinion coalesces around a negative view, we'll have to take that into consideration.'