Remember that horrid bronze statue of John Paul II in Rome? UPDATE!

Remember the gawdawful bronze statue of John Paul II in front of Rome’s Stazione Termini that was unveiled some time back?  Public outcry and a sense of humanity required a revision.

What it looked like:

We were not sure who it was, but it seemed not to be John Paul II.

So, it is now updated.

New head!



My suggestion:

Okay… I can’t take credit for that.  It was sent to me.  But… damn!… why didn’t they just do this?

UPDATE 24 November 1830 GMT:

The great Fabricius Romanus sent me two audio clips of what Romans say about this ghastly statue in Romanaccio – Roman dialect. They are hilarious … if you can follow Romanaccio, that is:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Why can’t people just make classical, naturalistic statutes anymore? Really, why is that so hard? Why does everything have to be stylized and angular?

  2. Son of Trypho says:

    It looks like some type of deformed Matryoshka doll. Perhaps a little Dziwisz statue inside would improve it?

  3. catholicmidwest says:

    This statue always amuses me because the audacity and intention of whoever commissioned is is very clear. PJPII wasn’t popular with somebody.

  4. Michelle F says:

    That face is way, way too small for the head. It reminds me of the “man in the moon” face from the 1903 film A Trip to the Moon.

  5. Michelle F says:

    The date for the film was 1902. Oops.

  6. APX says:

    Yes, Batman would have been a better choice.

  7. Stu says:

    It still needs to be destroyed.

    For the good of everyone.


  8. workingclass artist says:

    Well if the bronze is decent quality they could melt it down and reuse it.

    This is what happens when sculptors of limited talent try to imitate Rodin.

  9. JKnott says:

    Too bad they couldn’t minimize that slab of a cloak by at least giving it a function. Engrave various quotes from the documents and speeches of B. JPII on the inside and outside to keep the mind off its ugliness.

    The artist has a special relationship to beauty. In a very true sense it can be said that beauty is the vocation bestowed on him by the Creator in the gift of “artistic talent”.

  10. Random Friar says:

    Slightly better.

  11. Yes Father, I remember your post on this awhile back. The comments in the thread back then describing this atrocity were so funny!

    When they took the old head off, why didn’t they just leave it off? Use that gaping hole for a bus stop. Or a a kiosk selling something. A giant fridge? Do they still have phone booths there?

    I’m thinkin’ they need to simply melt this down for something more useful. Perhaps there are some prisons somewhere with bars needing patching. And then throw the artist behind them!! LOL

  12. Edprocoat says:

    So was this erection designed to make a statement such as he was a hollow Pope? Or was it a misguided attempt at modern art?

    I am confuzzelated !


  13. Kathleen10 says:

    Well, at least now the man with the giant cranium looks pleasant.

  14. NBW says:

    I love the Batman idea! It looks much better that way. What is truly upsetting to me is that someone actually got paid for that piece of junk and there are artists like myself dying to get a commission from a church to do beautiful sacred art and we don’t get hired.

  15. Norah says:

    The think is just plain ugly. Was it planned to be an insult to the memory of JPII? It should be melted down and something which truly resonates to the people about JPII sculpted. Some of the new breed of artists are just like the tailors in the story The Emperor’s New Clothes; they are trying to convince us that what can’t see- beauty , respect and transcendance – is really there but the public is too ignorant to recognise it.

  16. Tantum Ergo says:

    I looked up “ugly” in the encyclopedia, and there was the photo! That was, like, really weird, because it was a 1972 World Book encyclopedia. It HAD to be Mussolini’s statue after all!

  17. rhhenry says:

    The head is indeed (slightly) better. The rest is, well . . . Well, the rest leaves *something to be desired . . .*

  18. jilly4ski says:

    I am not up on my art periods, but having spent many years in a church build in the brutalist style, this piece would fit right in. It however, seems to send the wrong message of JPII’s pontificate.

  19. Therese says:

    There is nothing anyone can do to “fix” this monstrosity. (The Pope himself would have been appalled.)

  20. VexillaRegis says:

    I didn’t know the Pope was an invertebrate!

  21. pelerin says:

    This was featured in the British ‘Daily Mail’ a couple of days ago. I was amused by the comment of the sculptor that he had made ‘small corrections’ – ie a new head!

  22. Sieber says:

    Father Z,
    Thanks, I needed that!

  23. Christopher says:

    Given the comparison of the statue of the Pope to a Batman modification, the original statue of the Pope should have a Papal Coat of Arms style Bat Signal in the background.

    God Bless.

  24. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z, next time you are in Rome, call a blognic for all European Catholic bloggers and we shall all stand inside this thing and protest simultaneously on our blogs. The Great Statue Protest must begin…

  25. Lori Pieper says:

    Father, did you have to? I was just getting over my nightmares from my last glimpse of the thing.

  26. chantgirl says:

    Forehead of DOOM. Maybe, I saw Fantasia way too much as a child, but this looks like it should start to unfold its’ wings and torment little imps ala Night on Bald Mountain!

  27. The statues in the former USSR looked better than that! You are not far off with the Batman – some of the more, uh, free – thinking would probably listen to Batman as the voice of authority rather than the Holy Father.

    Happy Thanksgiving from your hometown, Father! God bless you.

  28. PostCatholic says:

    I love this statue and think it is the perfect metaphor for Wojtyla’s reign.

  29. Joan M says:

    Let’s hope it will get completely covered with bird droppings as soon as possible. It is pitiful. I sure hope that artist has some other talent! He clearly cannot sculpt.

  30. PostCatholic says:

    “Let’s hope it will get completely covered with bird droppings as soon as possible.”

    No need to gild the lily.

  31. AnnAsher says:

    It makes a better batman. Why is his body a vacuous cavern ?

  32. Mariana says:

    I suppose the new head is an improvement, but the style is so passé! But the Batman idea is nice! Could be moved a few metres and happily used as a bus stop shelter.

  33. albizzi says:

    Why is it so a permanent habit of Church officials to hire anticlerical, anticatholic, atheistic artists, sculptors, and architects to produce so ugly works of ART?
    Are they masochistic? Or are they as hateful of the Church as the men they hire?

  34. albizzi says:

    Mariana, there was an older post for the unveiling of the initial statue which was less respectful in suggesting it to be transformed in an urinal. Knowing that the first urinals in the world were built in Rome by Vespasian, this one would be useful, moreover in the vicinity of a railway station.

  35. Mariana says:


    Yes, I remember….

    It seems Church officials are just as inept as govt ditto at ordering modernist public works of art. I often wonder if the ‘artists’ are in fact laughing their heads off at the things they manage to sell, or if they’re sincere. Ah for a renaissance pope ordering a brilliant artist around and making him produce something good!

  36. The Egyptian says:

    for some reason, even though I understand the artists intention,sheltering the people embracing all etc, I get the impression that he is trying to suggest that JPII was an “empty suit”. would look much better with a full body inside. Personally GAG me

  37. Sandmama says:

    It really is much much better as a statue of Batman. The hood and bat ears radically improve the proportioning of the head relative to the immensity of the shoulders.

    Adding that little extra bit of cloak was a stroke of genius, clears up the ‘who the he$% is that?!” question right away.

    I guess its better that the mouth is upturned but I don’t remember his holiness being given to smirking. Still, working away from a likeness of Mussolini, seems like a positive step.

    Thanks for the laugh, Fr. Z!

  38. The Cobbler says:

    I hate to say it, but if the left of the before/after pictures really is the new head, then while it may look cheerier, it is nonetheless even less of a likeness than the old one, as it is too chubby. The one on the right looks like somebody took Playdough and molded JPII’s head in it, then used some technology to blow up a cast from this to mammoth size; the one on the left looks as though the same technique was used only the object of the work was a Buddha.

    Not that either is worth the bronze it’s made of. [nerdy digression on better uses for bronze redacted]

  39. faithfulrebel says:

    Nice statue. But why is there a statue of Hubert Humphrey in Rome, and why is he wearing a cape? :)

    Looks like this was made by that old lady who tried to restore the fresco of Jesus.

  40. Peter in Canberra says:

    it is still a horrid bronze statue …

  41. jmgazzoli says:

    He was the pope that we deserved but not the one we need right now.

  42. Be sure to listen to the audio clips which I added to the top entry.

  43. jameeka says:


  44. The Masked Chicken says:

    Why don’t they just have a perpetual hologram like they do for the famous captains at Star Fleet Academy?

    The Chicken

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