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A Polish photographer for a Polish Pope

2014-04-26

Just like it happened back in the year 2011, this portrait of John Paul II once again hangs from the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica, just days before the canonization. 

It is the face of John Paul II the official image of the saint is now part of history. 

The photograph was captured by Grzegorz Galazka back in 1989. He sent the image to the Vatican when it was looking for the official image for the beatification. 

GREZGORZ GALAZKA
Photographer 
"I am very very happy. Aside from this, I can’t really say much more, it wouldn't be right. It's a photograph and it's something that's being recognized. We can say that the hard work of a photographer sometimes pays off.” 

He took the picture while the Pope was speaking with a group of children. He never thought that years later, the photograph of an everyday event would have such an impact. 

GREZGORZ GALAZKA
Photographer 
"A first, I stored it away in a folder because I preferred other photographs. I chose other pictures of the Pope with kids, the Pope with groups of people, but for some reason,  I had never used that specific portrait.” 

From one Polish man to another, the photographer took pictures of John Paul II for 20 years. He took all types of pictures in different settings and situations, but he says it was rather easy to take pictures of Pope Wojtyla. 

GREZGORZ GALAZKA
Photographer
"John Paul II was a photogenic man. His face showed lots of emotion during ceremonies. He would use a lot of gestures, and for a photographer this is great. It also makes the job easy because you just have to watch his movements through the lens and take pictures as you go.” 

Galazka likes to point out the irony.... in a country like Poland, where the communist regime forbade showing pictures of Popes, now the most recognized image of a canonized Pontiff, is of a Polish Pope, taken by a Polish photographer. 


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