The statue is based on a photograph taken during the Pope's visit in 1980 and to some degree it marked the beginning of a very rapid decline of organised religion in Ireland. According to a 2012 WIN-Gallup International poll, Ireland had the second highest decline in religiosity from 69% in 2005 to 47% in 2012, while those who considered themselves not a religious person increased 25% in 2005 to 44% in 2012. The poll also showed that 10% of Ireland now consider themselves convinced atheists, which is an increase from 2005.
Around the statue is a Heritage wall the purpose of which is to commemorate the generosity of those of Irish descent who donated to Maynooth College.
Imogen Stuart (born 1927) is a German-Irish sculptor. Stuart was born to the German art critic Bruno E. Werner and took up sculpting at a young age. As the Nazi Party gained more power, her mother, she, and her sister left the country. After World War II they united with Werner.
In 1945 Stuart began studying under Otto Hitzberger, who taught her modelling, carving, and relief work using different materials. She met her future husband, the Irishman Ian Stuart, in 1948, and in 1949 the two went to Ireland together. The young sculptor, though born a Lutheran, became interested in Irish religious heritage and converted to Roman Catholicism. The two married in 1951 and took up residence in Laragh Castle near Glendalough. In their twenty-one years of marriage The Stuarts had three daughters: Aoibheann, Siobhan and Aisling.
JOHN PAUL II
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