Pope Francis statue installed at Argentina cathedral

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - A life-size sculpture of Pope Francis was installed on Saturday on a patio outside Buenos Aires' cathedral, where Jorge Bergoglio presided over daily Masses before he became pope in March.

The sculpture, made of fiberglass and resin, is in a courtyard closed to the public, but can be glimpsed from the street, where the pontiff appears to be smiling and waving.

It is part of a project by artist Fernando Pugliese to populate Buenos Aires with variously sized sculptures of the first pope from Latin America, in public and private spaces related to Bergoglio's life in Argentina.

"I've known Jorge Bergoglio for 14 years. I've always admired him and his very humble personality fascinates me," the artist told reporters.

"Now I want to take the papal philosophy of brotherhood and love to all the people who go through the city." The new statue was placed not far from one of the Virgin of Lujan, Argentina's patron saint, which will be exhibited in the Vatican starting in February.

Since Francis became pope on March 13, there has been a surge of religious tourism at the Buenos Aires cathedral, located across from the historic Plaza de Mayo, where he served as archbishop for 15 years.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.