A Once in a Lifetime Audience with the Pope

Santa Fe artist Andrea Drew Bacigalupa met with Pope John Paul II in 1986.

Divine inspiration can be found in the work of the late artist Andrea “Drew” Bacigalupa. The artist’s work also had an on-going papal connection. It began on August 13, 1969 when Bacigalupa and his family were vacationing in Italy. They were staying in the town of Castle Gandolfo, the pope’s summer residence.  As he remembered, “Our daughter, Daria, was two months old on the very day that we attended a general audience for Pope Paul VI. In the same manner that I had seen Italians do with infants I lifted Daria high above my head, hoping the Pope might acknowledge her from a distance. To our surprise she was taken from our arms and carried to the Pope. When he blessed her flashbulbs went off all over the hall!”

A Chance Encounter

In 1986 Bacigalupa had a second chance encounter. He had traveled to Rome with his sister Marie Claire who had recently suffered a life-threatening stroke. While at St. Peter’s Square they were seated in an area designated for the sick as they waited to see Pope John Paul II. As the Pope approached their section he shook Bacigalupa’s hand. He also laid his hand on Marie Claire’s head gave her an apostolic blessing. She went on to live another twenty years. The siblings attributed her extra time on earth to this papal blessing. 

European Ambiance  

Bacigaula and his wife Ellen moved to Santa Fe in 1954 because of its European ambiance. He had been stationed in England, France and Germany during WWII.  After the war he completed his studies at the Maryland Institute of Fine Arts. Then the aspiring artist spent a year at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. After living in Europe the couple decided to move to Santa Fe because it was a Spanish town in the mountains and the only place in the U.S. that felt like Europe.

First Canyon Road Gallery

After remodeling an old adobe house the couple opened the Bacigalupa Studio of Gian Andrea in 1956. The business was the oldest-continuous gallery on Canyon Road until the artist’s death in 2015.  From that location Bacigalupa did paintings and created sculptures and ceramics. Today, his work can be found in private collections around the world. “I never set out to do religious art but as it turned out my life’s work was of a spiritual nature,” he said.  

A Spiritual Home for His Art    

In Santa Fe Bacigalupa’s better known work includes: a bronze statue of St. Francis in front of City Hall, a ceramic tile mural of the prophet Elijah at Mt. Carmel and multi-faceted stained glass windows at the Carmelite Chapel, a tile mural of San Francisco at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Faith and etched glass panels at the Chapel of Reservation at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. In Pojoaque the artist’s work can be found at Our Lady of Guadalupe and in Albuquerque at the church of the Most Holy Rosary.

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