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News & Events

Pope Francis Mural Emerges in Manhattan

The pope’s likeness takes form on a high-profile ad space in Manhattan

Pope Wallscape Lamar Advertising New York City
A painter outlines the pope’s smile on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. The mural should be finished by Monday. PHOTO: MARK LENNIHAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

By Keiko Morris and Kate King | Wall Street Journal

When Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Madison Square Garden next month, he will be greeted by crowds and a larger-than-life painting of the Holy Father himself.

This week, a painted ad depicting the pope’s face began to take shape on the south-facing wall of 494 Eighth Ave., just north of Madison Square Garden, drawing attention from workers and tourists. DeSales Media Group, the technology and communications arm of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, purchased the mammoth advertising sign to tell people to tune into its Catholic cable channel offering 24-hour coverage of the pope’s trip to the U.S.

“We wanted to get the word out there so people could hear the Holy Father in his own words, not through the filter of a secular press,” said Msgr. Kieran E. Harrington, chairman of DeSales.

The image will remain in place for about six weeks, in the hopes that people will reflect on the pope’s words even after his short visit.

The signage space at 494 Eighth Ave. is about 225 feet high and 93 feet across, according to Lamar Advertising Company, which has leased the wall and sold ad space on it for many years. Workers began whiting out a previous ad on Monday, said Mike Muschiano, sales manager for Lamar in New York.

The painters, using horsehair brushes, small rollers and 100 gallons of paint, could finish the sign by Monday or earlier, Mr. Muschiano said.

The work caught the attention of Long Island resident Hank Prince, 63, who stopped with his two sons to admire the mural on their way to a tour of New York Harbor. “I’m interested in seeing what the rest of it looks like,” Mr. Prince said.

The sign welcoming the pope takes the place of an ad promoting the Cadillac CTS-V.

The DeSales billboard will showcase a photo of the Holy Father waving to a crowd, taken by Giulio Napolitano. The image is accompanied by the words “Welcome Pope Francis” and the public hashtags #PopeInUSA and #PapaEnUSA.

The original article appeared on the Wall Street Journal website »

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