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'Ugly' JP II statue in Rome to get facelift

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 13.09.2011 09:35
A controversial statue of the late Pope John Paul II in Rome is set to be modified, following ongoing criticism from the Italian public that it is ugly.

JP II statue unveiled in May; photo - EPA

The five-and-a-half metre high bronze monument was originally unveiled on 18 May, on what would have been the Polish pontiff's 91st birthday.

The statue stands by flowerbeds adjacent to Rome's Termini railway station and was created by noted Italian artist Oliviero Rainaldi.

However, barely had the statue been revealed when a chorus of disapproval broke out.

Many have complained that the artist has not captured a convincing likeness of the Polish Pope. Indeed, some have gone as far as to say that the statue more closely resembles Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

The Vatican, too, has raised its objections.

“The face bears only scant resemblance to the pope. And altogether the result does not seem up to scratch,” the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano wrote after the statue was unveiled.

Others claimed that the statue is an invitation for homeless people to sleep within it (the design echoes a 1993 photograph in which the pope, in characteristic good humour, wraps his cloak around a playing child).

A special committee involving leading Italian heritage watchdogs has now called for modifications, including a reworking of the pontiff's head and the base to be raised by 30 centimetres.

Sculptor Rainaldi says the pope would have approved of homeless people taking shelter at the site but has agreed to the modifications, it is believed. (nh/pg)

tags: JP II, Rome
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