Pope Francis beats Homer Simpson [photos]

 The Walker family joins artist Cesar Viveros for the breaking of the world record at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The Walker family joins artist Cesar Viveros for the breaking of the world record at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A public mural of the pope in Philadelphia has set the world record for the number of participating painters, a record previously set by a mural of the Simpsons.

The Mural Arts Program will soon install a 4,000-square-foot mural on the 65-foot high of St. Malachy School in North Philadelphia. The image of Pope Francis pope surrounded by children consists of 163 panels, each painted by hand.

The artist, Cesar Viveros, broke the image into 300 distinct color fields. He numbered each one and invited the public to paint by numbers.

“In the end, when they are looking at the piece close up, they don’t get it because it looks abstract close up,” said Viveros. “But when you step away, you can clearly see what you paint. They say, wow, that’s what I painted? That’s my most rewarding moment, when people get surprised at what they did.”

The previous world record for a paint-by-numbers mural was set last year at the San Diego Comic Convention, where 2,263 people participated in a painting of the Simpsons.

Viveros surpassed that record during the final day of the World Meeting of Families at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

A representative from the Guinness Book of World Records, Carlos Martinez, announced the previous record was broken by the Walkers, an Argentinian family who drove 13,000 miles in a VW bus to see the pope in Philadelphia.

“All the evidence we are receiving at this moment indicates that with this participation we are now at 2,267,” said Martinez, to the cheers of onlookers. Viveros, with a heavy Mexican accent, led them in a chant, “Philly! Philly!”

The mural is not quite finished. More painting needs to be done before its November unveiling. By then, about 3,000 people are expected to have participated in painting the image.

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