Just outside the Class of ’59 Fine Arts Courtyard, an astonishing mural of Pope Francis makes a splash over a narrow pathway. The mural is a tribute to Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy. Passersby stop for a moment, astounded by the precision and talent.
Art student Marco Hernandez explained that “The Doors of Mercy” mural was inspired by Serra’s Mass of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.
“The Doors of Mercy are symbols of the unconditional and forgiving love that God has for his children,” Hernandez said. “The doors are not simply about feeling God’s mercy for us, but also showing mercy to others. We are called to open the Doors of Mercy to those who are most vulnerable in our society. Coincidentally, December 8 marked the passing of my grandfather. I recognized this as a direct opening of the Doors of Mercy to my grandfather, a person who suffered in this life. The Doors of Mercy give me faith, hope and guidance–especially for the suffering that we illustrated in the mural.”
Hernandez and his fellow Serra artists, Jonathan Garcia, Nathaniel Liganor, Carlo Cardinale, Gianni Cardinale, Jonathan Rabang, Dylan Rojo Cagadoc and Sepehr Pazoki, brought the Doors of Mercy to life.
Hernandez participated in the Serra enrichment trip to Italy during his spring break. After entering the Doors of Mercy at St. Peter’s Basilica, he was filled with a sense of community and tranquility.
“These doors were open to all, without discrimination,” Hernandez recounted. “No person entered alone. The physical act of entering the doors revealed the truth that mercy is open to all of us when we aim for that sense of community.”
Hernandez added that the spirituality he felt inside St. Peter’s Basilica led him to create the incredible mural at Serra. On the giant wall, Pope Francis is joined by a rabbit, a lamb, fawn, gazelle and a couple of meerkats.
“The animals that wait in front of the Doors of Mercy serve as symbols of people in our world who are attacked, and who are most need of our mercy,” noted Hernandez, who will study animation and illustration at San Jose State University. “The key for us to enter through these doors is to abandon our apathy for the vulnerable. We must replace our arrows with love that will heal the hearts of the broken. There is always room for improvement in this world."