“Have you found it yet? Pope Francis is at Cologne cathedral!” the cathedral asked on its official Facebook and Instagram, above a picture of the stone figure of the pope.
Germany’s largest Gothic church has a tradition of carving surprising statues and symbols to in its architecture.
“We immortalised Pope Francis in the Cologne cathedral about a week ago,” the cathedral’s master builder, Peter Füssenich, told the local newspaper Express in late October. “It’s only a decoration; there’s no water coming out like a real gargoyle.”
The sculpture shows the Argentine-born Pope smiling at passers-by with his right hand ready to greet them. It’s attached to a stone canopy over a large statue of the Bible’s King Solomon.
The cathedral has a staff of about 100 artisans to regularly refurbish its artworks, including dozens of stonemasons who make replacement copies of outside statues and structures worn down by years of rain, snow and smog.
They have so many repairs to make that local legend says the world will end the day work on the cathedral stops. Construction on the massive building began in 1248, was halted in 1473 and finally finished in 1880, NCR online reports.
“About 20,000 visitors stream into the cathedral daily through the main entrance on the western facade,” the local daily Express wrote when it discovered the new statue. “Now they have to be careful - Pope Francis sees everyone who goes in and comes out.”
Photo: Henning Schoon, Cologne Cathedral Instagram