Attack of the Fifty-Foot (Former) Pope!

Okay, technically he’s only 45.3 feet tall. (That’s 13.8 meters, for those who speak metric.)

But that still makes this statue, recently erected in Poland, the tallest likeness of Pope John Paul II in the entire world.

The statue will be officially unveiled tomorrow, so unless you’re already pretty close to Poland, you might not be able to make it in time. But that’s okay — the statue is expected to tower over Częstochowa (say it like chest-oh-HOE-vah) for centuries to come.

Częstochowa is Poland’s most important Catholic city, home of the Jasna Góra Monastery, which is Poland’s major pilgrimage site. Millions of pilgrims visit annually to venerate the famous icon of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, protector of Poland, called Our Lady of Częstochowa. Maybe ordinary ladies can’t aspire to be Catholic priests, but Catholicism is known for letting one particular Lady be the patron of countless cities, causes, and inanimate objects.

Still, when less than half of Poland’s Catholics are attending services on a regular basis, the Black Madonna could clearly use some help. Like the Church says, women just aren’t suited for this whole “spiritual leadership” thing. Maybe John Paul will lend her a (giant) hand.

The statue is being funded by Leszek Lyson, a private investor who commissioned the giant pope as a gesture of thanksgiving for his own heroic act: three years ago tomorrow, Lyson saved his son from drowning. Given that John Paul II has been deceased since 2005, the former pontiff’s role in the rescue effort is not yet clear.

Lyson hopes that the statue will help inspire future generations to value their faith and to remember the legacy and example of John Paul II, sometimes called John Paul the Great amongst the particularly devout. According to Lyson, the pontiff was:

A great and good man who has done a lot for the world: ended Communism and opened borders in Europe, reached out to people in his pilgrimages around the world… [The statue] should make everyone stop and think about life.

Similar statuary projects have been attempted in other parts of the world — Santiago, Chile rejected proposals to build a similarly-sized statue, which locals dubbed “Papasaurio,” or “Popeasaurus.” Rome also boasts a statue of John Paul II, far smaller than Częstochowa’s offering at only 18 feet (5.5 meters). Lyson hopes to see the statue he commissioned featured in the Guinness Book of World Records as the planet’s tallest pontiff.

Following in the tradition of Rio de Janiero’s Christ the Redeemer and Notre Dame’s Touchdown Jesus, the mega-pontiff is an eloquent testimony to the love many Catholics had for John Paul II. Polish Catholics in particular revere the pontiff, as much for his Polish extraction as for his piety and affable demeanour.

Sadly, this decreases the likelihood of affectionately blasphemous nicknames like ‘Popeasaurus’ being applied to the statue, a great loss for Catholic-watchers around the world. Religion stops being a fun spectator sport when it’s taken too seriously.

About Sara Lin Wilde

Sara Lin Wilde is a recovering Catholic (and cat-holic, for that matter - all typographical errors are the responsibility of her feline friends). She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she is working on writing a novel that she really, really hopes can actually get published.

  • Gus Snarp

    I hope they installed lightning rods. It reminds me a lot of the Hug Me Jesus that has replaced the original Big Butter Jesus in Ohio.

  • kevin white

    As a former catholic, i liked John Paul II. He was a good man. I’ll probably figure ou some derogatory nickname for his statue though. Give me a week.

  • invivoMark

    “ended Communism and opened borders in Europe, reached out to people in his pilgrimages around the world…”

    I didn’t know that Ronald Reagan was a pope.

    Also… anybody else think that giant statues are downright creepy?

  • Gus Snarp

    I think you mean Mikhail Gorbachev.

  • newenglandbob

    Looks just like a statue of Joseph Stalin

  • Mario Strada

    What about John Paul I? No statue for him?

  • JohnnieCanuck

    That’s what John Paul II’s statue is standing on the shoulders of.

  • M. Elaine

    Fifty-Foot Golden Calf

  • Rain

    Okay, technically he’s only 45.3 feet tall.

    They should have put on the hat to make it an even 100 feet. Those are some big hats. And funny looking.

  • Rain

    He seemed very nice (when he wasn’t opposing civilization). He definitely had a weird “eucharist” fetish though. He couldn’t stop talking about the damn thing.

  • Jane Williams

    The money spent could have feed how many people in need of assistance.

  • m6wg4bxw

    What an excellent investment! And I just can’t resist playing the naming game. No booing, please.

    John Paul II Tall
    The Great White Pope

  • Jordan Olsen

    False idols much?

  • busterggi

    I’d have sworn I read a book that prohibited graven images.

  • busterggi

    “I didn’t know that Ronald Reagan was a pope.”

    Clearly you don’t know any RC Republicans.

  • MD

    Remember when religion inspired great works of art? Now, not so much.

  • MD

    Touchdown Pope, meet touchdown Jesus.

  • Randomfactor

    Oleo Wojtyla.

  • A3Kr0n

    A church in my town plans to put up a 60 foot cross, you can nail him to that. BTW: The comment section in the local paper was so negative they disabled it.

  • Obliged_Cornball

    I’m dying!

  • m6wg4bxw

    While traveling coast to coast, I stopped in Groom, Texas to get a close look at the 190-foot illuminated cross there. I don’t know how many people it attracts, but the insects seemed to like it, and the local toads like the insects. I had to walk around the site with great caution. There were toads everywhere!

  • Max Bingman

    Someday the pidgeons will poop a cross on it. Thousands will flock to Poland to witness the miracle.

  • m6wg4bxw

    Touchdown Jesus struck out, so to speak.

  • A3Kr0n

    I think they’re mostly local people, and the ones that aren’t are usually former residents that pop in to read the news.

  • fsm

    Thou shalt have no other gods before me. – Exodus 20:3

    Seems to me they don’t abide by all of the old testament.

  • John

    I LOVE giant statues! Except when they come to life, like in Jason & The Argonauts. Does anyone know? Is the Pope’s statue going to come to life?

  • Carmelita Spats

    Karol Wojtyla was a sick fu)k. He was a pedophile enabler. Wojtyla
    protected Father Marcial Maciel who sexually tortured Mexican children.
    Maciel was a vicious rapist who preyed on sick, malnourished and hungry
    children. Maciel convinced poverty stricken families to allow him to
    take their sons and “educate” them under the auspices of the Legionarios
    de Cristo. He abused children over a period of DECADES. The
    genital-free Polish pope had the nerve to name Mexico’s most notorious
    child rapist, Marcial Maciel, a “Model for Catholic Youth” and protected
    him from LEGAL prosecution. The Mexican Catholic Church has been rocked
    by the scandal and whenever I find statues of Wojtyla in downtown
    Mexico City, outside the cathedral, I pay certain gentlemen $25.00 to
    urinate on them. Wojtyla’s ties to this sick fu)k are beautifully
    documented in Carmen Aristegui’s book, Marcial Maciel: Historia de Un

  • McAtheist

    Lech Walesa minus the moustache? Hey, maybe they re-purposed a Lech statue.

  • Matthew Baker

    Can we fill it up with the Mood slime from Ghostbusters II? Think of all the great fun a giant walking pope statue would be.

  • RobMcCune

    Ronald Reagan was the pope, but of a different religion.

  • RobMcCune

    somewhere along the line it switched from ‘great’ to ‘great big.’

  • Richard Wade

    The fish got away, but it was THIIIIIS BIIIIIIG!

  • Randay

    That statue looks more like Bill O’Reilly to me, but with his ego, he would probably want something bigger like the Colossus of Rhodes.

  • Jason Horton

    Fibreglass is flammable, right?

  • C Peterson

    The really cool cities looking for a tourist attraction go for something like “the world’s largest ball of twine’, “the world’s tallest thermometer”, or “the world’s longest wiener”. I guess that leaves the really uncool places left to vie for the biggest cross or biggest religious statue.