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­Pope John Paul II statue unveiled in Rome with a smile

Published time: November 19, 2012 18:15
Edited time: November 19, 2012 22:15
A combination of two pictures showing (at R) a 5.5m tall bronze statue of the late Pope John Paul II on May 19, 2011 and (at L) a giant statue of Pope John Paul II displayed outside Rome's Termini train Station on November 19, 2012.  (AFP Photo/Filippo Monteforte)

A combination of two pictures showing (at R) a 5.5m tall bronze statue of the late Pope John Paul II on May 19, 2011 and (at L) a giant statue of Pope John Paul II displayed outside Rome's Termini train Station on November 19, 2012. (AFP Photo/Filippo Monteforte)

The Italian capital has unveiled the revised version of the late Pope John Paul II statue, after the initial instalment of the monument was greeted with harsh criticism from the public and the Holy See.

The statue created by Italian artist Oliviero Rainaldi was sent for a makeover after it was first unveiled in May 2011. The public slammed the sculpture saying it looked more like Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, than the Pope.

The Vatican also saw nothing of honour in the first version of the sculpture. The Holy See's art critic wrote that the monument looked like a "bomb" had gone off.

The bad reviews and public outcry forced the city's mayor to act immediately. He called an expert committee of art critics, culture officials and scholars to work with Rainaldi and help him find a way to make the monument look appropriate.

Rainaldi himself blamed the faults on the workers who assembled the initial version. He also said he was quite satisfied with the final work, adding that it was how he actually saw it from the beginning.

According to Rainaldi only “small corrections” were made to the statue. The artist attended mainly to the Pope’s face, changing the expression to more cheering and smiling. The bronze's colour was also evened out, with most dark stains removed. The monument now also stands on its own pedestal.

Many believe that the statue has changed for the better, a minority prefer the previous version, while there’s still a hardcore of critics who detest all versions, complaining it looks like a refrigerator.

"With contemporary art, you have to wait for years to pass before judging it," Umberto Broccoli, Rome's superintendent of cultural heritage told reporters at the monument’s site in front of Rome's Termini train station.

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