Pope John Paul II was beatified, on May 1 this year, at a ceremony that drew about 1.5 million admirers to Rome. He was the Pontiff of the Catholic Church and has been loved by people of all walks. He was, of course, one of the greatest men of the recent history. Millions of people, who had gathered at St. Peter’s Squire to attend his funeral ceremony after his death in 2005, were chanting “Sancto Subito” which means “Sainthood now”.
The birth day of the late pope falls on May 18. A bronze statue of Pope John Paul II, paid for by a foundation at no cost to the city of Rome, was erected a few days ago to mark the late Pontiff’s 91st birthday, which was observed on May 18, 2011. The new, modernist sculpture of Pope John Paul II, 12 feet high, was erected outside Rome’s Termini Train Station, at a bustling squire where millions of people pass by every day.
Reaction of the public
It was expected that people will be amazed at by looking at this great art work.
But unfortunately this statue could not bring out the expected results. Some Romans and tourists say that the statue does not at all resemble the late pope; rather the bronze statue looks more like Italy’s wartime dictator Benito Mussolini than the widely beloved pope.
Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, though praised the erection of the statue in the heart of the city as a good venture, had to report in a stinging attack that the statue had no resemblance of the late pope. It criticized the work saying, “The result is not what was intended and his face on the top of the statue bears little resemblance and already there has been much criticism. It makes him look like a tent. It looks like a bomb has hit.”
Antonio Lamonica 71-year old Italian said, “How could they have given such a kind pope the head of a Fascist?”. Looking at the statue in the busy squire, his wife muttered, “It’s ugly. Really ugly. Very ugly”
The “Dailymail” also reported that this strange green figure, with curious curved hollow and unrecognizable features, is just the sort of arty yet meaningless sculpture blighting many a city park these days.
The newspaper Dailymail, commenting about the disappointment of the artist said that the architect Oliviero Rainaldi was much disappointed that his statute has been misunderstood, since he had wanted to do something more 18th Century but in the end went for contemporary design. His actual idea was to present a message of universal love and welcome from the blessed Pope John Paul. He never thought about resemblance. In fact he thought that his work would harmonize the head with the body and the cloak.
Asked if the statue would be removed, Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said public opinion would be considered. He says, “There’s an ancient saying: ‘Vox populi, vox dei,” which means, “Voice of the people, voice of God.”