by Father Mark Goldasich
“Hey, Father, we got to see the pope in Rome!”
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve heard this. Usually what most people mean by “seeing” the pope is that they got a photo of him, usually at a general audience or at his Angelus blessing. In the old days, people would point out the pope in a picture or two in a photo album; nowadays, they’ll show me the photos on their phones. Inevitably,
I have to squint to see the pope. In audience photos, he’s about an inch tall; in Angelus pictures, about a half-inch. No, the pope hasn’t shrunk; it’s just that the photos were taken from far, far away.
I wish I could give travelers to Rome a surefire way to get up-close and personal with Pope Francis. Sadly, I don’t have his cellphone number or any connections with his personal staff. I do, however, have a great way to get some fabulous photos of him . . . and you don’t need to travel to Rome or even to the East Coast this fall. You don’t have to fight any crowds or deal with the weather. Heck, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home.
So, where can you grab these photos? They’re found in a fantastic new book, entitled “Pope Francis: A Photographic Portrait of the People’s Pope” (New York: DK Publishing; 2015; 251 pgs.). This hardback book will keep you enthralled for many hours.
It begins with photos of Francis’ early years in Argentina and his journey to becoming a Jesuit and a cardinal. The book then takes the reader through Pope Benedict’s resignation and Francis’ election. The bulk of the rest of this book is a “year in the life” of the pope, featuring photos for each month, highlighting his many activities. It’s fascinating to see the diverse people he encounters. The book’s final section features a few of the pope’s trips: within Italy and beyond, to Brazil, the Holy Land and the Philippines, to name just a few.
The photos were taken by Rodolfo Felici of Studio Felici, a family business
that has been doing papal photography since the late 19th century. The clarity and eye-popping colors of the photos make you feel as if you are right there at the celebrations. Since the photographs all feature captions, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking at.
Additionally, each “month” features a short article explaining what readers can expect to see, as well as some color commentary on the specific celebrations, the weather in Rome, etc. These articles were written by Father Michael Collins, an Irish priest, author and lecturer, who lived in Rome for nine years. His writing is accessible and knowledgeable and complements the photographs well.
The book’s larger size (9 inches by 11 inches) gives room for these photos to be appropriately appreciated. Given that there are so many pictures, about every possible emotion can be seen on the pope’s face. But, as you’d expect, many feature his characteristic warm smile. A few of the more whimsical photos show the pope spinning a basketball on a pencil and another captures him wearing a red clown’s nose (in solidarity with an Italian organization that cheers up sick children).
It’s also fascinating to look at the faces of those who come into contact with the pope. Their expressions speak volumes of the lasting impact that he has already had on the world.
Now, if this were an infomercial, I’d say: So, how much would you expect to pay for a book of this sort? $250? $100? No! Order in the next few months and you can have this book for the in- credibly low price of just $25! I’m serious: The book costs just $25. That is an incredible bargain.
OK, now for the bad news: I have an advance copy of the book. It’s not scheduled for release until Aug. 4. But you can get a sneak peek
at it online at Amazon and preorder a copy there or at your favorite local Catholic bookstore.
I started by saying that most people never get close enough to the pope for a fabulous photo. With Francis, however, all bets are off. He’s known to break protocol and wade into crowds.
So, if you’re fortunate enough to get up close with Pope Francis, take a picture, send The Leaven a copy . . . and tell him I said “hi.”