Remember the ghastly statue of Bl. John Paul II?

You remember I am sure the horrid statue of John Paul II in front of the Roman main train station.

This just in.

Controversial John Paul statue looks set for makeover
Artist ready to make some alterations
29 August, 16:02

(ANSA) – Rome, August 29 – A statue of the late Pope John Paul II at Rome’s main train station looks set to be modified after causing a wave of disapproval.


Some Romans and tourists think the giant artwork looks more like Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

”That bullet-like head on top, it reminds me of Mussolini,” said Enrico, a 42-year-old computer programmer who commutes from Latina south of Rome.

American tourist Sandra Hillhouse, 24, from Arizona, said: ”I don’t understand it at all. He looks more like one of those weird creatures from Star Trek”.

A station cleaner, Maria Colacelli, 46, added a practical objection to the aesthetic ones.

”That cape will be a magnet for street people. I’ll be sweeping out their beer bottles and trash every morning”.

To which the artist reportedly replied ”If a street person needs a place to sleep and found it under my statue I’d be glad.

I’m surprised people still say such things”.


Read the rest there.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. disco says:

    The only alterations that could possibly improve that statue will need to be made with TNT

  2. Mark R says:

    Mrs. R visited Rome some time ago and noted that a lot of Italians hated John Paul II…I don’t think so much because he was a Pole but because they were such bad Catholics.
    OTOH, the JPII/Wyszynski statue in my old university in Lublin, Poland is generally pleasing, except that their hands are disproportionately large.

  3. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Yep, what better place for a drunk or drug abuser to indulge his habit than under the cape of John Paul II. Methinks a shelter or treatment center might be more appropriate.

    The unanswered question is, what kinds of alterations could be done to it?

  4. AnAmericanMother says:

    I’m not sure exactly where they’d start with “alterations”. It’s just the ugly, tiny head and that hollow cavern it’s perched on. If by “alterations” they mean “dismantling” . . . get the blowtorches!

  5. Legisperitus says:

    It always comes back to Star Trek. Modernist art and the sixties are inseparable, aren’t they?

  6. Centristian says:


    “The unanswered question is, what kinds of alterations could be done to it?”

    The sculptor could, perhaps, fashion a mitre for the statue’s head, to avoid the (justifiable) comparisons with Mussolini. The addition of a hand holding a representation of John Paul’s pastoral staff might also serve to improve the overall appearance of the thing.

    Still, I think it’s a bit odd for an artist to yield to public pressure and offer to alter his work. How often does that happen?

  7. Brad says:

    Statue is demonic. Revenge against a blessedly triumphant foe.

  8. wolskerj says:

    “To which the artist reportedly replied ”If a street person needs a place to sleep and found it under my statue I’d be glad.”
    Someone hand this “artist” a broom and bucket and let him do the cleaning up every morning.
    How easy it is to be magnanimous and noble when it’s someone else’s problem.

  9. contrarian says:

    My thoughts exactly (though you said it better than I could).
    I might just add: I don’t think the artist *really* thinks that. Who would want their artistic creation used as a toilet? Moreover, I think the artist fails to remember that his creation is now in public space. As such, if he truly didn’t mind that it took such abuse, he is therefore cavalier towards the aesthetics of an aesthetic space other than his alone.

    Though, perhaps, given the statue’s design, this much should be obvious from the start…

  10. TomG says:

    Why oh Why are we of the West always letting people of this sort trash our patrimony (thinking of the MLK statue as well)? Are we totally insane!?

  11. digdigby says:

    The demented logic of having the creator of this atrocity ‘improving’ it leaves me tearing out what is left of my hair.

  12. Perhaps it be donated by the Roman Senate and People to the LCWR fir their nxt change if leadership paraliturgy. One steps in … another steps out…

  13. Artist ready to make some alterations

    No – don’t trouble yourself. We saw what you did the first time around.

    I suspect that you would find a long line of people happy to ‘adjust‘ the statue for him if the local Polizia would only take a coffee break..
    All at the same time..
    In a small cafe..
    far away..
    Wearing ear plugs.

    Problem solved.

  14. anilwang says:

    May I suggest a very simple modification? Change the plaque stating that it’s about John Paul II, to something like one of the following:
    * “The Hollow Men” (T. S. Eliot)
    * “Men Without Chests” (C. S. Lewis)
    * “Venus Fly Trap with head on top”

  15. wanda says:

    If I may add to anilwang’s list;
    *psycho-looking cookie jar
    *squirrel baffle (I know I’m baffled, looking at that horrid thing)

  16. Athelstan says:

    The only thing about it that needs to be altered is its location.

    Specifically, I’ve been thinking that it would make a superb coral reef.

  17. Xmenno says:

    We spent 8 days in Rome in June, and traveled around by bus and subway and trains, therefore spending a lot of time at “Termini.” EVERY time we went through the area, we marveled at the ugliness and sheer weirdness of that statue. In a city with the most beautiful art in history, we wondered how that one got built. It’s ugliness was only exceeded by the chapel mosaic (1970s) of an order of sisters with ties to our hometown that we visited. That one was truly painful to behold.

  18. Patti Day says:

    To which the artist reportedly replied ”If a street person needs a place to sleep and found it under my statue I’d be glad.

    Why not just provide the steet persons with the address of the artist so they crash at his pad.

  19. tealady24 says:

    Well good. Instead of it looking like a refrigerator with the door open, the “artiste” might change it into a bbq pit or something comparable.

  20. PostCatholic says:

    I love that statue and all it so realistically depicts.

  21. jflare says:

    Am I going blind?
    I don’t see the link we usually have to follow.

  22. Tim says:

    The statue cannot possibly resemble Mussolini. If it did, it would have been promoted as a place of pilgrimage on the Orbis Catholicus Secundus website.

  23. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Off with its head
    Use it for a shed

  24. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Why the nasty crack at Orbis Catholicus Secundus? If you have a problem with Mussolini’s building projects, fair enough, but its hard to take photos of Rome without the Via della Conciliazione and the Corso Vit. Eman. creeping in, you know. Or are you suggesting that the perfectly nice hard-working young American guy who runs it is a fascist? Why sneer at him in Father Z’s combox, if at all?

    Meanwhile, the Termini statue is not as ugly in life as it is in photographs, but it does indeed resemble Musso.

  25. Supertradmum says:

    The statue is a tribute to the cult of ugliness in our society, starting with the glorification of the anti-hero and culminating in the stupidity of such movies as “Shrek”, which demands that ugliness is the same as Beauty, which it is not. Beauty, an Attribute of God, makes us look at the ideal, not merely the sub-human. Deformation is also a sign of the degeneration of Western Culture. A serious comment on the glory that once was Rome, this image has no place in Rome. Cynicism and irony have no part in art. Do Italians have a sense of humor about bad art?

  26. Supertradmum says:

    PS What is the artist’s address in Rome? We should give it to the Little Sisters of the Poor.

  27. pattif says:

    Au contraire, Seraphic. No photograph even begins to do justice to the stupefying hideousness of that thing.

  28. Gail F says:

    If they want to replace it, I know of this GREAT sculptor in China who has a lot of experience doing monumental statues of Mao. And, now, of Western civil rights heroes…

  29. irishgirl says:

    ‘The only alterations that could possibly improve that statue will need to be made with TNT’-disco.
    BINGO! That’s what should be done with this hideous monstrosity!
    Father Z, you should give this poster your ‘Gold Star Of The Day’!

  30. marthawrites says:

    My husband and I saw this statue when in Rome in June. No photograph could convey the monstrosity of this bulk. JPII was a handsome man, a happy man, a kindly man, a learned man. None of these characteristics is even suggested in the ugliness of the Termini statue. The “artist” had his chance; he shouldn’t be allowed to touch this work unless it would be to topple it. Someone else could then start over from scratch to honor Blessed JPII in a piece of ART.

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