May 19, 2011. (Romereports.com)
This year John Paul II would have turned 91. Rome is paying tribute to the pope with a statue in his likeness. This marks the official end of all activities connected to his beatification. The sculpture is called “Conversations.” It's made of bronze and weighs four tons, measuring almost twenty feet high.
He stands saluting all those who pass by the square near Rome's main train station. It's one of the busiest in Europe. Now, this statue of John Paul II welcome all visitors.Oliviero Rainaldi
Sculptor“I was inspired by the sense of welcome and openness, the love and the willingness of John Paul II to listen. It was an attitude that he held towards the entire world. I was also inspired by a picture that was taken at a conference in 1993 where in a moment's pause, John Paul II embraced a child and played with the blanket covering her.”
It was blessed by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome. He noted the pope's love of the Eternal City was reflected in his visits and encounters with people. He also emphasized the universality of Pope John Paul II, especially the way he invited all people to look ahead with hope. Card. Agostino Vallini
Vicar of the Diocese of Rome
“The sculptor reflects the personality of John Paul II. It's not compact and closed, but rather with open arms, as if talking to everyone. You can only identify him as John Paul II by his head, which symbolizes his personality. The great heart of our blessed was open to everyone, giving peace to all.”
The mayor of Rome remembered how John Paul II would end his day. He would look out over the city from his window and give his blessing. In part this statue is a way to thank him for that.Gianni Alemanno
Mayor of Rome
“I think this sculpture will help to always remember his presence. A presence that we need. Rome needs your profound love to help us find hope.”
The statue will remind all visitors of the protective and welcoming figure of John Paul II, one of the most beloved popes in the history of the Catholic Church.