Artist Mark G. says the signatures on this art connect people to the pope/Tracy Simmons - SpokaneFāVS

Hundreds sign “engaging exhibit” of Pope Francis

By Tracy Simmons

PHILADELPHIA — With a ballpoint Bic pen, Mark G. drew an elaborate portrait of Pope Francis, blew up nine 4-foot images of the artwork, and set them up outside Philadelphia’s convention center.

“Do you want to sign?,” volunteers asked as tourists walked by.

In less than a week, hundreds have written their name across the pontiff’s grinning face — in black, red, blue, yellow.

“This is an engaging exhibit, it’s healing,” Mark G. said.

He wouldn’t give his full name. His mother named him Mark, he said, and G stands for the gifs of God.

The signatures signify peace and love, which he said are the things the world needs right now.

“I created it for that purpose,” Mark G. said. “It’s a spiritual thing.”

The World Meeting of Families has reported that people from across the country, and from various parts of the globe, are in Philadelphia for the papal visit. Mark G. said his project connects those people to Pope Francis.

After the weekend’s events, he’ll pack up his project and put a urethane varnish on it, forever sealing the signatures together.

It will be on exhibit in Philadelphia through Christmas. Mark G. hopes his project will go viral and ultimately be on display at museums across the country, and maybe at the Vatican.

On Saturday night he plans to reveal two 7-foot wooden carvings of his drawing, with lights.


SpokaneFāVS will be traveling to Philadelphia next weekend to cover Pope Francis’ visit there. Follow our coverage here.

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. She serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.

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