A new statue dedicated to Blessed John Paul II
A sculpture for Karol
John Paul II would have celebrated his 91st birthday on May 18, 2011 and the City of Rome, represented by its mayor, Gianni Alemanno, chose that day to inaugurate a new statue in memory of the Pontiff. Located near the Termini train station, in Piazza dei Cinquecento, the work by sculptor Oliviero Rainaldi has already received some criticism. The statue is a peculiar work: it looks something like a curtain, ripped open by the wind. Or as someone observed, a church bell.
The idea behind the work is to represent the Pope’s embrace, a gesture he was known for and one he gave on many occasions to visitors, pilgrims and the faithful. The face of the statue only vaguely represents that of the Pope. On the whole, the end result does not seem to live up to its initial promise.
When the plans for this work were first presented for approval, it contained a certain symbolism. What today seems like a church bell was a red cloak, open in a natural way, as seen many times in pictures of John Paul II.
The cloak, in fact, was meant to symbolize the expressive embrace of the Pope who welcomed under his protection the faithful who came to Rome and those he met around the world. In the square, however, we are faced with a violent rip, as if hit with a bomb, which makes the cloak seem almost like a sentry box, topped by an excessively round head of the Pope.
Nonetheless, the decision of the City of Rome to promote an initiative which completes and perfects the relationship between John Paul II and the Termini train station (dedicated to the late Pope in 2006) is laudable.
One merit of the work of sculptor Rainaldi is his desire to move from the classic papal iconography towards modernity. However, the sculpture sins in its scarce similarity to the Pope. Anyone who sees it coming out of the station will think that it is an enormous indistinct monument rather than a homage to John Paul II. Given the place and importance of the monument, one could ask whether it would not have been better to give priority to this aspect.
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