Loveland artist paints Pope Francis in NYC

Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-18 20:00:12-04

A Loveland artist hopes Pope Francis will see his larger-than-life mural during his visit to the United States.

The 225-foot painting covers a Manhattan skyscraper. Van Hecht-Nielsen says it's one of his most personal projects to date.

"Normally, it's some form of advertising, which is good and has its own rewards," said Hecht-Nielsen. "But, sometimes with advertising, you don't get to really get into the project or process as much as something like this."

Hecht-Nielsen is a Catholic convert and father of six. He says the painting has special meaning not just for him, but for his whole family.

"My faith is the most important part of my life and my family's life, and kind of informs every aspect of our existence," said Hecht-Nielsen.

He remembers fighting back nerves as he painted the mural by hand with cameras and thousands of people watching. But it will all be worth it, he says,  to welcome the Pope on his first visit to New York City.

"If he saw that, I would be extremely honored that something I worked on, the Pope saw, and maybe get a picture of him taken in front of it," said Hecht-Nielsen. "I think that would be incredible."

The Pope's first stop is Washington D.C. on Tuesday.

He'll arrive in New York City Thursday and finish the weekend in Philadelphia.