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A picture is worth a thousand words: The story behind John Paul II's Beatification picture

2012-05-01

Grzegorz Galazka

Photographer 
"I remember it was in the afternoon, when the Pope met with a group of children. They were asking questions to the Holy Father and he had this unique look on his face. I think at that moment, he was thinking about his response, since the questions were improvised.”

The picture was simple, yet special, so Grzegorz Galazka kept it in his archive for more than 20 years. Time passed, the Pope grew elderly and eventually passed away. Then as his beatification ceremony got closer, the Vatican called on its photographers to submit the pictures that best represent the character of John Paul II

The photographer says, he was actually working during the beatification ceremony, and the suspense lasted until the very last second. 

Grzegorz Galazka 
Photographer 
"I knew more or less that my picture had been selected, but really anything could  change at the last minute.  So I didn't see it as a fact, until it was actually uncovered. Only after this happened, did I know for sure, that it was indeed my picture.”

Galazka has been a freelance Vatican photographer since 1985. He is from Poland, as was John Paul II.  He says, he believes, the picture was selected because it shows  the charismatic and human side of the great Pope. 

Grzegorz Galazka
Photographer 
"He was always a very curious person. Curious about the world, people and even in this case with children. But, in this sense, we adults are sometimes also like children. Perhaps this is why many people connected to this picture and not another.”

The fact that his picture was selected, only sunk in after the beatification ceremony. He now says, it's the one picture that will mark his career and life. He's glad people have enjoyed it. But in this case, he says above all else, he hopes the image has the approval of John Paul II. 


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