Pope Francis Helps Paint Mural That Will Be Installed in North Philly


Photo by Bradley Maule

Photo by Bradley Maule

Follow Philadelphia magazine’s live coverage of Pope Francis’s historic visit all weekend long.

Last night, during the Festival of Families and concert on Eakins Oval, Pope Francis tapped into his artsy side to paint the final brushstroke on a mural that will be dedicated in North Philly. The work, titled The Sacred Now: Faith and Family in the 21st Century, was created by Mural Arts Program muralist Cesar Viveros. It will be installed on three walls on the Saint Malachy School at 11th and Thompson streets. At 4,239 square feet, the paint-by-numbers piece is broken into 153 5-foot-by-5-foot panels that have been painted at a number of community paint days and by guests at the World Meeting of Families. Below, a rendering of what it will look like when it is finished:

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Besides being blessed with a brushstroke by the pope, it is also in the running to snag a Guinness Book of World Records title for Most Contributions to a Painting by Numbers. Mural Arts estimates that 2,700 have helped bring the mural to life. That number includes 942 people who have painted it. “We are currently reviewing the evidence generated over the last months in order to confirm the final number of people who have contributed to the mural,” says muralist Viveros. “Assuming the number surpasses the current record and once we see the completed mural in its entirety in one place, we will be able to declare it as a new Guinness World Records title.”

The current record was set in 2014 on a mural that was created by 2,263 people. We’ll find out for sure if Philly beat it when the mural is completed on its projected finish date in November of this year. Stay tuned for updates.

Photo by Steve Weinik for Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

Muralist Cesar Viveros beginning the installation on Saint Malachy School. | Photo by Steve Weinik for Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.