Well, That Was Quick! Rome’s “Decorum Squad” Scrapes Off the Super Pope

Before and After shots, showing the Super Pope graffiti, and the scraped and repainted wall

The Super Pope is gone!

Apparently, the Vatican liked it (since the Pontifical Council for Social Communications tweeted the photo out to the world).  And the media liked it.  And the people liked it.

But the folks who are responsible for keeping Rome’s walls and walkways in tip-top shape:  Not so much.

Catholic News Service reports that in the middle of the night, Rome’s “decorum squad”–which is responsible for cleaning the city and removing urban artworks–scraped off and painted over the “Super Pope” street art.

I’m feeling a bit frustrated about that.  See, it’s typical for such displays of urban art to remain on walls and buildings for years.  But the Super Pope?  Well, it only went up on Monday, so it didn’t last even three full days.

Graffiti on the same wall as the “Super Pope” was not removed

In fact, Carol Glatz of CNS describes the street tagging which remains, not just all over the city, but right there, all over the wall and environs where Super Pope once flew.

Artist Mauro Pallotta knew it was coming.  He said, in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, that he’d seen the “decorum squad” lurking on the street–but that the press of enthusiastic viewers had kept them away.  Only under cover of dark were they able to remove the work.

Pallotta explained why he had chosen to paint the Holy Father as a cartoon hero.  He had been watching TV, he said, when a story about the Pope came on–and the idea just clicked.  He explained,

“The superpowers which I gave him represent the enormous power at his disposal, which he uses — the only world leader — to do good. He’s the only one who does what he says.”

Pallotta takes care not to damage the areas where his paintings are displayed.  He draws and paints his “ecological” and removable street art onto paper, then glues the drawing onto walls in his neighborhood around the Borgo Pio with a water-based adhesive.

Perhaps the Super Pope–like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in The Terminator–will be back.

Oh–and my earlier post (just yesterday) about the Super Pope and the artist who envisioned it can be found here.


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  • Katalina

    Oh come on Kathy, get real! That whole Super Pope thing was ridiculous and you know it so it was good that it was erased. Francis has had every other honor bestowed on him including Man of the Year from MTV. This personality Cult you and other Media Catholics are making Francis larger than life which is impossible, because the man is only human with weaknesses. Graffiti of any kind is against the law including this one, and its not fair to Francis Benedict and even John Paul or even Paul VI to keep saying his is separate from the others. NO. They are all equal because they are Successors of St Peter and the Vicar of Christ on Earth.

    • kathyschiffer

      Click the link near the top of my article, Katalina. Check out the graffiti that they have NOT bothered to remove. I agree this is not an issue of great purport–but perhaps Roman streetcleaners have no sense of humor?

    • Jacob Suggs

      It was ridiculous, but not, I think, in a totally bad way. There are worse things than fascination with the pope, and it sounds like this graffiti was closer to a poster then anything else.

      That said, I do think it’s good that the silliness was short lived. Even though I’m sure Pope Francis would sigh and shake his head at me, I can’t help but think leaving something like that on the wall for too long would be mildly inappropriate.

      Even if the rest of the world doesn’t though, I think we should resist the urge to see Francis’ popularity as a challenge to Benedict or anyone else. I am a great admirer of Pope Benedict, and wish more people were, but I can’t imagine him approving of us being annoyed that the world as a whole is more excited about Francis.


    Pope Francis is criticized by wealthy “Christians” for embodying the
    teachings of Christ!!

    Christ said: of the 3 graces, Charity is the greatest of them all. He also said:Mark 10:17-27
    17 A rich man said to Jesus: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal
    life?” …” sell what you have, and give
    to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
    22 At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for
    he had great possessions.
    “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of
    God!” 23 “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass
    through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the
    kingdom of God.”

    article clearly shows the new Vatican, which is embraced by true
    Christians, agnostics/and even other religions worldwide. THIS IS
    him, intelligent caring man, recognize Christ, and in Christ, they have hope.

    It is time for humanity to clamor for equality, for as the US constitution accurately poses “we are all created equal”

    can we live in a world when the likes of Romney makes $250 million
    dollars a year while others have no food and even water to drink? In
    order for Romney to keep up his standard of living, he cuts jobs in the
    USA and sends them to China. The wealthy, to keep their lifestyles cut
    expenses by cutting jobs, replacing people with computers, with robots,
    or by giving the jobs to poor people who in third world nations will
    work for a dollar a day, which are slavery wages! That is anathema to
    the teachings of Christ.

    time has come to raise our voices and say NO to taking our jobs away
    because this robs us of our dignity and purpose in life. WE don’t want
    charitable gifts from the rich, for that makes us as beggars. The time
    is now to demand for human rights over machines, over millionaire
    bosses, over greed and power. Yes, the time has come for Francis to
    speak up for mankind so that the cross Christ carried was not in vain.

    G. Kaplan, MD

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