Since then, Pallotta has made numerous representations of the Argentine pontiff, be it Francis playing golf and scoring for peace in “Pope’s Golf” or holding a lifebuoy doughnut from the papal window in “Papale Papale.”
“I like showing him performing daily tasks like cleaning, riding a scooter or throwing hearts with a sling because these are things that are part of the everyday life of children,” the artist said. Francis’ ability to seem relatable to people is what makes the pontiff “irresistibly pop” for Pallotta.
In the Treasure Museum of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, the artist showed his latest interpretation of the pope. Scaling a wall reminiscent of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Francis is depicted as reaching for peace, while St. Francis of Assisi looks down at him and holds a sign reading “mercy” in Ukrainian. As the war in Ukraine ensues, Pallotta believes this graffiti depicts the “incredibly arduous journey toward achieving peace.”
Though Francis has been an endless source of inspiration for the artist, Pallotta resists the idea of describing the pontiff as his patron. The first time he met the pope, it was after his general audience at the Vatican in 2014, where he offered the pope a copy of “Super Pope” painted on wood. They met a second time in 2019 in Albano Laziale, a small town not far from Rome recovering from a devastating earthquake, and Pallotta presented another graffiti, this time of the pope wiping away smog to reveal a clear blue sky.
“I didn’t want to be seen as the artist who paints the pope,” Pallotta said, but he admitted that for as long as Francis will continue to inspire him he will likely continue to paint him.
“My objective is to amplify and shed a light on the social and political issues of the world that surrounds us,” he said, “and it just so happens that Pope Francis is oftentimes smack in the middle of that.”
This article originally appeared on ReligionNews.com.