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Arturo Mari: In The PopeĎs Shadow

2009-04-06

And, at age 67, he’s still going strong.

Arturo Mari, the official papal photographer, spent 27 years capturing John Paul II for posterity.

Arturo Mari
Papal Photographer

I worked close to John Paul II for 27 years, and I think we all saw what he was able to do.  Being close to him for so many years changes your life.  It changes you, it makes you understand what patience is, what serenity is, what loving your neighbor means, because that’s the example he gave us. So he changed my life in so many ways.

After so many years, the two became close friends. In fact, Mari was one of the few to say goodbye to the pope on his death bed.

Arturo Mari
Papal Photographer

I always thought of John Paul II as my own father.  When he found out I had a fiancee and was going to get married, like a father, he wanted to meet my girlfriend who is now my wife.  So I introduced them and they talked and got to know each other.

Mari was there the day Ali Agca tried to kill John Paul II…..he was able to shoot 5 pictures.

Now he’s documenting the pontificate of Benedict XVI. He says it’s not fair to make a comparison.

Arturo Mari
Papal Photographer

They are two people with different characters..two different personalities.  Since I began this job with Benedict XVI, I appreciated his respect for others, his humility and his devotion which I had never witnessed before.  This is a great thing.

But no matter who he is, Mari says one thing is standard with all popes.

Arturo Mari
Papal Photographer

The Pope prays a lot.  That is for sure, the pope prays very, very much.

And so this photographer wouldn’t trade his unique view of the papacy for anything in the world.