A new version of the controversial statue of pope John Paul II, which had to be revamped following a public outcry over its ugliness last year, was unveiled in front of Rome's central station on Monday.
The five-metre (16-foot) high bronze statue, designed by the Italian artist Oliviero Rainaldi, was unveiled in May last year, just weeks after the late pope was put on the path to sainthood -- but immediately sparked controversy.
John Paul, who died in 2005, smiles benignly down on passers-by, his bronze head supported by a structure with no body, but a large cloak ready to embrace those in need.
The harsh edges of the cloak -- which previously had a box-like structure -- have been softened in the new version, and the popular former pope's head has been tilted forward to sit better on his body, creating a more humane effect.
The statue has also been propped up on a small platform to add an air of movement to a man who galvanised young believers from all over the world.
"The sculpture was put together badly," Rainaldi told the Repubblica newspaper on Monday, blaming the foundry for straying from his plans.
"The head was sunken in. I've now given it more neck, an extra 50 centimetres which creates a better synthesis between the volume of the face and the geometry of the body," he said. "We've got there in the end."
The statue, which stands with its back to Rome's main Termini railway station "to welcome and protect everyone", was widely slammed by critics as an eyesore which better resembled Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini or Batman.
"I only saw John Paul twice in my life. I worked from memories and photos. I tried to combine the symbolic with the emblematic," Rainaldi said.
"And I tried to capture both ages of John Paul in his face: the upper part, with the eyes, belongs to his years of vigour. The mouth and chin, on the other hand, belong to the last years of his life, marked by illness," he added.