Krakow got a new statue of John Paul II yesterday. Forgive me if I’m not overly excited. Effigies of the Polish Pope are now so common that its hard to pop down to the shops these days without stubbing your toe on one. There are now 228 known public statues of Jan Pawel in Poland (this guy keeps a record). The Pope only died three years ago. According to a calculation I just pretended to do, if the production of Pope statues continues at this rate there will be more marble John Pauls than actual Polish people by about 2025. If that many pontifical figurines were laid end to end they would reach from here to the Vatican, not to mention forming a major tripping hazard. The Global Climate Thingy will almost certainly be worsened in some way I can’t be bothered to invent. Clearly, something must be done.
The only image of the new John Paul II statue I could find.
In classic Polish fashion the erection of the latest graven Pope was not without administrative difficulties. According to my, undoubtedly poor, understanding of last night’s news the church wanted to erect a John Paul outside the cathedral on Wawel hill, but ran into endless bureaucratic difficulties with the city authorities trying to secure permission. In the end they put it up anyway, but on a temporary wooden plinth so that it isn’t technically ‘built.’ They should have put it on wheels. I think there’s a great future in mobile papal statues. The devout could tow them behind their cars and underground Pope-installing guerillas could wheel them into prominent locations under the cover of darkness. It’s a potential growth area in these hard economic times. I’d mention my idea for giant inflatable popes if I didn’t fear straying even further into potentially disrespectful waters.
A John Paul II colossus bestriding the land
I have nothing against John Paul II, the Polish Pope was a great guy, seriously. According to every source I haven’t bothered to read he was a genuinely good person who had a genuinely positive effect on the lives of millions of individuals. That’s pretty much the definition of a good guy in my book.
Imagine that on wheels; heathens would stand little to no chance.
The Poles love the Polish Pope, and not without good reason. If I was Polish I’d love him too. Even as a benighted non-Pole I have a large soft spot for him. I saw him once in Warsaw and he struck me as the kind of guy I wouldn’t mind delegating a whole lot of moral baggage onto, if I’d had the luck to be born catholic.
I’m not convinced this looks anything like him.
Kitsch is the word that springs, unfortunately, to mind. You have to wonder what John Paul would have thought of all this idolatry, and you have to conclude that it wouldn’t have been positive.
Now that’s just scary…