Entrevista a Mercedes Fariña en Associated Press (AP)

First portraits of Pope Francis by Mercedes Fariña

An artist, who grew up in the same Buenos Aires neighbourhood as Pope Francis, has painted an allegorical series of portraits of the popular pontiff, set against a backdrop of locations emblematic of his life and first year in office.

Artist Mercedes Fariña said the series of seven paintings entitled "Habemus Papam" in Latin, or "We Have a Pope", is an artistic expression of the enduring link between Latin America's first pope, his papacy and his past.

One painting is set against the backdrop of the Basilica of San José, where the former cardinal of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, got his religious calling.

Fariña said that by painting the pictures she is "paying loving homage to our own dear Pope Francis."

The Vatican has already received one of the paintings in past October, she said.

Upon receiving a still image of the series, the pontiff sent a personal letter to the 37-year-old artist, praising her work and requesting one of the compositions for the Vatican's private collection.

A copy of the portrait (digital print) remains in Fariña's studio. It shows the pope posed solemnly on the day of his election.

Among Fariña's plans for new works is a painting showing Pope Francis alongside Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, who will both be canonised on next April 27th.

Date: 24/4/2014 - Storyline under licence of Associated Press Television News.

Broadcasting at Mercedes Fariña's art studio (Associated Press).