Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »
The Perfect Gift for Travelers: Our #1 New York Times® best selling book »

Rome, Italy

Sculpture of Giovanni Paolo II

A sculpture serving as an homage to Pope John Paul II. 

Depicting a magnanimous leader whose cloak serves as a shelter, this simple statue speaks volumes about the artist and the subject.

Pope John Paul II, or Giovanni Paolo II in Italian, was an inspiration and a spiritual guide to millions. Sculptor Oliviero Rainaldi, responsible for this statue depicting the Pope in Rome wanted to express that as simply and emotionally as possible.

Showing the Pope in his unmistakable religious garments, the statue shows him with arms outstretched, welcoming, and his cloak hanging down and encompassing an area beneath him. The statue can be seen as sheltering those who stand within it (even though actual access is forbidden and the place is enclosed), as the Pope himself acted as a spiritual shelter to Catholics everywhere; the less religiously inclined use to remark cynically its resemblance to a public urinal.

The present statue is the second version, the first one having been modified after a brief time of exposure since the result was underwhelming, also due to its inadvertent likeness to former Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.