The Pope Puts on a Big Picture Show

A public art project will illuminate St. Peter’s Basilica with photos of the natural world as leaders meet in Paris to negotiate a global climate agreement.
Wildlife images from some of the world's greatest environmental photographers will be projected onto St Peter's Basilica next week, similar to those previously projected on the Empire State Building (inset), in solidarity with the climate change talks in Paris. (Photos: Thomas Trutsche/Getty Images; Obscura Digital/Facebook)
Dec 6, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

The team that illuminated the Empire State Building with 40-story images of endangered animals is planning to take its act to Vatican City on Dec. 8.

This time, images from some of the world’s greatest environmental photographers will be projected onto Saint Peter’s Basilica in a show of support for the ongoing Paris climate talks, the Vatican announced on Friday.

The massive public art piece, titled “Fiat Lux: Illuminating Our Common Home,” will be presented as a gift to the pope by a coalition including creative firm Obscura Digital, Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc., the Li Ka Shing Foundation, Okeanos, and the Oceanic Preservation Society.

Over the summer, Obscura Digital’s $1 million display in New York City to promote the Discovery Channel documentary Racing Extinction dazzled onlookers with its striking illustrations of tigers, humpback whales, wolves, and other endangered species from the around the world.

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For the Vatican, images depicting the natural world and humans’ interdependency on the environment will cover the dome of the basilica.

Obscura Digital cofounder Travis Threlkel told The New York Times the art installation is a sort of “visual poetry.”

“We’re showing the diversity and glory of God’s creation on the planet, and we’re hoping to inspire the world to have reverence for all things,” Threlkel said.

While the show coincides with the Paris climate negotiations, it is also a part of the opening ceremony of the Vatican’s Jubilee year, which begins Dec. 8 and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands to Rome to walk through the Saint Peter’s Holy Door in order to be pardoned for their sins.