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Loveland Artist Creates 30-Story Image Of The Pope

LOVELAND, Colo (CBS4)- In a quiet studio in Loveland, Van Hecht-Nielsen combines two of his life's passions, religion and art.

"It's a big part of my expression of faith and love of God," Hecht-Nielsen told CBS4.

His artistic talent and his religious zeal were tapped to paint a particularly important portrait.

"This mural is 30 stories high," Hecht-Nielsen said.

The painting is enormous, designed to honor a man of enormous influence world-wide. It took 10 days for a four-man crew working 12 hours a day to paint the mural.

Pope mural
(credit: Van Hecht-Nielsen)

"The Pope himself takes up about 180 feet of that, so he's pretty huge," he said.

Pope Francis, his followers and the international media are seeing this labor of love in the heart of New York City. For a devout Catholic, the Papal painting is a sacred responsibility.

"I always pray before I start, especially with this mural, but I was praying the rosary," Hecht-Nielsen said.

His selection as the artist for this assignment, he says was not one of luck but likely divine intervention.

"It must have been providential, because I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. God chose me for this job, I suppose," he recounted.

The painter and Pope Francis may never meet, but they're certainly linked by an artist's rendering which towers above Manhattan.

Van Hecht-Nielsen
Loveland artist Van Hecht-Nielsen created 30-story portrait of the Pope. (credit: CBS)

"I was very glad to contribute in any fashion to people kind of opening their hearts to welcoming him to our country," Hecht-Nielsen said.

The mural was commissioned by the Diocese of Brooklyn. Hecht-Nielsen will have to paint over it at the beginning of October.

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