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Bronx Neighborhood to Celebrate Arrival of Pope Francis with Mural

By Eddie Small | September 17, 2015 2:32pm | Updated on September 21, 2015 12:24pm
 A mural of Pope Francis has gone up by Yankee Stadium to celebrate the pontiff's arrival in New York City.
A mural of Pope Francis has gone up by Yankee Stadium to celebrate the pontiff's arrival in New York City.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

CONCOURSE — Pope Francis may not grace Yankee Stadium with a mass during his upcoming trip to New York City, but the neighborhood will still commemorate his visit with a mural.

The 161st Street Business Improvement District has signed up Bronx artist Andre Trenier to paint a mural of the pontiff on Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. in front of 850 River Ave., according to Cary Goodman, executive director of the group.

Although the plan was originally to paint murals in the neighborhood for Pope Francis and the three popes who had previously visited Yankee Stadium — Pope Paul VI in 1965, Pope John Paul II in 1979 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 — Trenier will now just do Pope Francis due to space constraints, Goodman said.

The BID chose Pope Francis out of the four because the previous popes have already left their marks on the neighborhood through their visits, Goodman said.

"You can walk the streets, and people can say, 'I remember when Pope Benedict was here,' and there were even people who remember when the pope was here 50 years ago," he said. "I think it’s important to now continue linking the pope with this neighborhood."

Trenier has previously painted several of the BID's baseball murals in the neighborhood, including the ones of Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, Satchel Paige and Alex Rodriguez.

He said he was very excited that his next mural would be of Pope Francis.

"He’s very important to people in this neighborhood and people around the world," he said, "so to be chosen to capture his likeness is a great honor."

The basis for Trenier's mural will be the image of Pope Francis that the BID used on posters of him that they printed up.

"I might change up the lettering, do that my own way," he said. "I’ll probably also take some kind of creative license with the background, but it will be based off of that image."

Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in New York City on the evening of Sept. 24, and his schedule includes a visit to the United Nations, a procession through Central Park and a mass at Madison Square Garden.

His itinerary does not include a trip to The Bronx, despite an aggressive push by officials in the borough to have him conduct mass at Yankee Stadium, but Goodman said he remains hopeful that the pontiff might have time to squeeze in a visit to the borough, especially given that it has been 50 years since Pope Paul VI's visit.

"Hopefully, he will be able to come past the stadium and commemorate the 50th anniversary," he said. "That would just be an absolutely gorgeous addition to an already very important schedule."

Many of the murals currently surrounding the stadium are of famous Yankees, and Trenier said he was not sure whether the baseball team or the pope was more popular in the neighborhood.

"We're going to find out tomorrow," he said. "I’m betting on Pope Francis, but you never know."