Rome gets Piazza John Paul II

Rome’s city assembly has approved a decision to rename part of Piazza S. Giovanni in Laterano after Blessed John Paull II. The area in front of the diocese of Rome’s vicariate buildings, alongside Basilica S. Giovanni in Laterano, is to be called Largo Giovanni Paolo II.

The news follows a year of discussions between the city and the Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini to find a suitable location. An inauguration date is expected soon for the square whose full title will be "Largo Giovanni Paolo II - Karol Josef Wojtyla - Pontefice 1978-2005 - beatificato 1 maggio 2011".

Paying tribute to the late Polish pontiff, the mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno said "John Paul II was not only an exceptional pope, a man of peace and a communicator of extraordinary strength, but he was a man of faith who, with his faith, changed the face of the 20th century.”

Last November the controversial five-metre bronze statue of JPII in front of Termini station was re-inaugurated following the “completion” of the original work. When it was first unveiled in May 2011 the statue received widespread criticism from the public, the city and the Vatican, and its sculptor Oliviero Rainaldi was tasked with re-working the original.

Eight years after the pope’s death, postcards and calendars of the popular figure are still on sale in tourist shops across Rome.