"The Ninth Hour" represents Pope John Paul II lying on the ground after being stuck by a meteorite. The media image of the pope is amplified in the sculpture with its expression os suffering. The title of the work alludes to the moment when Christ cries out : "Why have you forsaken me ? " and dies on the cross. In a dark theater of the absurd, the vicar of Christ on earth dies in a scene devoid of symbolic features, killed by a meteorite as if in a work of science fiction.
Maurizio Cattelan brazenly drops a meteor on a likeness of Pope John Paul II. It seems to suggest that even the holiest man in the Roman Catholic tradition may not be safe from misfortune. The work has been interpreted in various ways. Some read it as a comment on the Catholic Church’s reputation for harbouring scandal beneath its moral surface. Others have seen it as suggesting that even the most established seats of power can become vulnerable. The Church is an institution dazed and changed by our increasingly secularised world. The Pope could be a symbol of resilience and re-invention; a call to find new languages for perennial faith and culture to survive and adapt.