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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 May 2006, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Pontiff statue attracts hundreds
Pope John Paul II
The picture of Pope John Paul II on which the statue is based
A two-and-a half-tonne marble statue of the late John Paul II has been unveiled in Lanarkshire.

Hundreds of people attended a ceremony to mark the installation of the 7ft sculpture on Saturday at Carfin Grotto near Motherwell.

The statue, made from Italian Carrara marble, is the UK's first of the late pontiff who died last year.

The ceremony was timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of an attempted assassination on the late pope.

Created by renowned Scottish artist Tom Allan, the sculpture is based on the famous picture of an aged John Paul II wrapped in a flowing gown and clutching a staff.

'Significant figure'

It was commissioned by the pastoral planning team of Carfin parish, who said the late pontiff remained a significant figure for Scotland following his visit to the country in May 1982.

During that trip, Pope John Paul II preached to a crowd of 300,000 in , Glasgow's Bellahouston Park - the country's largest ever religious ceremony.

The historic visit came just a year after John Paul II survived being shot four times by a Turkish gunman in Rome.

The Rt Rev Joseph Devine, the Bishop of Motherwell, said he was "privileged" to bless the work of art after leading a midday mass.

The bishop was joined at the unveiling ceremony by Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly, the former Archbishop for Polish emigres in Rome.

Also present was the Rt Rev Ian Murray, the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, and the Rt Rev John Mone, the retired Bishop of Paisley.

Mr Allan laboured for six months before finishing the piece from a block of marble originally weighing six tonnes.


Speaking after Saturday's ceremony, he said: "It was quite an elaborate service, with perhaps 700 people.

"To me, not having been brought up as a Catholic, it was quite an event to witness.

"I was impressed by how many people turned up and how they reacted to the statue, not necessarily the structure itself but to the representation of John Paul II - someone who was and remains very special to them.

"To see people praying in front of your sculpture is quite a moving thing to see.

"It was a lovely day and it's been a tremendous experience to have been involved."

Carfin Grotto was built in the 1920s to recreate France's famous Lourdes pilgrimage site.

John Paul II statue for Scotland
09 May 06 |  Glasgow and West
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08 Apr 05 |  Europe
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