Dolores Puthod: “Followers of God”
Often a painting expresses and describes a concept better than words. To express the “Universality of the Church”, French artist Dolores Puthod painted (cm 400 x 300) a canvas to honor Pope Paul VI, who initiated and sustained dialogue at all levels in order to seek unity of all Christians and establish harmony and mutual respect among all religions. His role during and after the Second Vatican Council, as well as his first encyclical letter, Ecclesiam Suam, are the best witnesses to his person and work concerning ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.
In the painting, Paul VI, with his arms open to welcome everyone, is shown in St Peter’s Square. His shadow suggests a form of the Cross of Christ, a symbol of suffering which is common to all people who seek the Truth. The Pope is surrounded by several world religions, which are represented by their respective charismatic leaders who are either living or dead.
They are, beginning from the right:
- The Dalai Lama, leader of Tibetan Buddhism,
- Mahatma Gandhi, a great exponent of Hinduism,
- King Feisal, Sovereign of Saudi Arabia and of Umma, i.e. Islamic religious leader,
- Dhammayana Maha Thera Phra Buddhajinorot, Supreme Buddhist Patriarch of Laos
- Nikodim, Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church,
- Khoraiche, Maronite Christian Patriarch of Antioch,
- Cardinal Sergio Pignedoli, the President of the “Secretariat for Non- Christians”, the highest authority who, in Pope’s name promotes dialogue between religions,
- Melitone, exponent of ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople,
- Somdet Phra Wannarat, Abbot of Wat Phra Chetupon who became the 17th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, taking the name Somdet Phra Ariyavamsagatanana.
- Athenagoras, Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church,
- Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury until 1975 and the Primate of the Church of England.
The vision of the artist was concretely realized in the invitation by Pope John Paul II to the leaders of various Christian churches and communities and leaders of different religions to come to Assisi on 27 October 1986 to pray for peace in our world.