VATICAN City, Oct. 21, 2016 – Pope Francis personally received the framed artwork “Embracing Mercy” from a Filipino liturgical artist at the Sala Clementina, Vatican City, Rome after a special papal audience granted to the Augustinian Recollects who participated in the 55th General Chapter on Thursday, Oct. 20.
The canvass shows Pope Francis embracing the Christ-child, fashioned after the likeness of Alan Kurdi, the 3-year old Syrian refugee who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea and was washed ashore along with his deceased mother and brother. The photo of Kurdi facedown on a beach went viral last year, increasing worldwide attention and concern for the massive European refugee crisis.m
“Beautiful, I like it. Please pray for me, young man,” said Pope Francis to “Embracing Mercy”’s artist, Br. Jaazeal “Tagoy” Dineros Jakosalem, OAR, upon receiving the artwork.
According to the Jakosalem, “Embracing Mercy” symbolizes the Church’s “motherly attitude” towards the plight of refugees. Pope Francis personally lived it, he said, as his own advocacy. In the face of the global crisis, the artist added, the Church embraces the many faces of injustice brought about by poverty, neglect, and the indifference of rich nations.
In a message intended for the 2017 World Day Message of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis said: “I feel compelled to draw attention to the reality of child migrants, especially the ones who are alone. In doing so, I ask everyone to take care of the young, who in a threefold way are defenseless: they are children, they are foreigners, and they have no means to protect themselves. I ask everyone to help those who, for various reasons, are forced to live far from their homeland and are separated from their families.”
Exactly a month ago, Fr. Miguel Miro, OAR, Prior General of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, commissioned Jakosalem to create a work of art to be given to Pope Francis on the scheduled special audience. With the able help of his art mentee, Melvin Lañas, a Recoletos scholar studying at the University of San Jose – Recoletos, Cebu City; they were able to finish the “socially-conscious” piece of art.
Jakosalem has been mobilizing young people to participate in community art projects for some time now. “Embracing Mercy” is the third piece from Jakosalem’s artistic team to be presented to Pope Francis. During his January 2015 papal visit to the Philippines, the Holy Father blessed the “pilgrim art” of “Jesus of the Poor”, while the Laudato Si’ icon was given to him last September 2016. (CBCPNews)