VATICAN CITY (AP) — Artist Shen Jiawei’s paintings of Chinese soldiers during the Cultural Revolution were so popular with Mao’s regime that 250,000 copies of his most famous work were made into propaganda posters and distributed throughout the country.

Four decades later, Shen now has a different patron commissioning his work: He has become, somewhat inexplicably, the unofficial portrait artist of the Vatican. He painted the first official portrait of Pope Francis and recently completed a huge rendition of the second most powerful man in Rome, Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s money guy.

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