By Emily Drooby
Busts of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis will now greet the millions of people a day who visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
While visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral Joe McClean said, “They look beautiful.”
The bronze busts are a tribute to the four Popes to have visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral and were crafted by local sculptor Carolyn Palmer who said, “Each one has their heart coming through, I tried to portray their hearts coming through.”
Palmer spent hours studying the four Popes to capture their likeness. Explaining, “I start by researching lots and lots of photos and I have videos and I then enlarge the photos on walls and in my studio and I watch them, I watch each person and how they spoke and their sensitivities.”
From their eyes, to their smiles, to the crosses worn around their necks, Palmer says, “Each one, I designed the cross to actually match each pontiff and I did a lot of research on that to see which one they wore the most.”
The busts are located in the vestibules right off of 5th Avenue and are about eight and a half feet off the ground. Palmer says, “I designed them to be looking down and facing left and right depending on the parishioners coming in or guests coming in an guests leaving.”
The busts took two years to complete, weigh about 250 pounds each, and sit upon marble shelves. Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II greet visitors in the south vestibule, while Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis can be found in the north vestibule. The busts honor the historic visits of the four popes.
This includes Pope Paul VI’S first historic visit to the cathedral in 1965 – which was the first time a sitting pope visited the Western Hemisphere.