Eyes of the Heart Studio


Photorealistic pencil portrait of Pope St. John Paul II.

Medium: Graphite Pencil

“Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first Apostles who preached Christ and the Good News of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel (Cf. Rom 1:16). It is the time to preach it from the rooftops (Cf. Matt 10:27). Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living, in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern “metropolis”. It is you who must “go out into the byroads” (Matt 22:9) and invite everyone you meet to the banquet which God has prepared for his people. The Gospel must not be kept hidden because of fear or indifference. It was never meant to be hidden away in private. It has to be put on a stand so that people may see its light and give praise to our heavenly Father.”
~From the World Youth Day Homily of Pope St. John Paul II in Denver, 1993

Drawing this portrait was a joy, because Pope St. John Paul the Great is my spiritual “Papa”. As an eleven-year-old, I received the grace of attending the papal Mass at World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto and seeing him in person. That experience left a profound impression on me and solidified my faith in Christianity. 

Pope St. John Paul II was the Father of the “New Evangelization”. In the late 20th century, he invited the whole Church to renew its proclamation of the Gospel, that the world might know a new springtime of belief. John Paul II inspired countless Catholics of the “John Paul II generation”, who have carried his evangelizing mandate forward to the present.

Not only did John Paul II encourage us to be not afraid and evangelize; he showed us how to do so. Many of his witnesses observed how fully present he was to others. His gaze would penetrate their souls, making them feel like the sole object of his attention. He always sought to know and understand others – deeply. Then, after giving them his wholehearted attention, he would enter into dialogue with them. John Paul II was a master of creating dialogue in the pursuit of unity and peace. His first focus was on solidarity. He would enter into relationship with others, embrace them where and as they were, and affirm what was good in them. This foundation of charity preceded and encompassed his proclamation of the Gospel, which he always presented as an invitation, proposing the truth in a language his hearers could understand and relate to.

Following his example, may we practice the same loving attention to others. Within this seedbed of kindness and compassion, may the Holy Spirit enable us to enter into dialogue with them and plant seeds of truth, that they too may come to know the love of Christ.