PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — The exterior of the Province’s St. Francis Inn here has been spruced up with a huge 18-by-23-foot mural of St. Francis. The mural, painted last summer by an Inn volunteer, was finalized last month with the addition of the Peace Prayer (Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…”).
Created by Brian Ames of Mt. Airy, Pa., an Inn volunteer for almost two years, the mural towers over the Inn’s north wall and can even be seen by passengers on the southbound El train, according to Karen Pushaw, an Inn volunteer. Ames is a landscape designer and art enthusiast, whose artwork is often exhibited throughout the area.
Pushaw was a coordinator of the project, and wrote about the mural in The Pilgrim newsletter. The volunteers had initially tried to work through the Philadelphia Mural Arts program, but their proposal didn’t fit the guidelines. “This time,” writes Pushaw, “we were in a position to do it ourselves.”
The mural has been attracting a lot of positive attention, according to Frederick Dilger, OFM, who serves at the Inn, most significantly for its sheer size. The mural took Ames a month to paint, and required rental of an aerial lift. Scaffolding would have been too disruptive and inconvenient to guests coming for meals, according to Pushaw. The lift, she said, with its massive wheels and boom, took up a large part of the Inn’s yard.
Ames said he was inspired by the story of St. Francis and the wolf that terrorized the town of Gubbio. He painted the story of St. Francis befriending the wolf, mediating his needs with the town’s concerns, and reaching a solution where all could live in peace.
The Pilgrim newsletter, which calls itself “A Franciscan paper following the journey of love… lived in service,” is produced for four ministries – St. Francis Inn, Thea Bowman Women’s Center, St. Benedict’s Thrift Shop and St. Francis Urban Center – all in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.