Arturo Mari: The pope’s photographer

Arturo Mari might not be a household name, but to photographers in Rome and in the religious press the name is very recognizable. Think Ansel Adams. Annie Leibovitz. Mari was Pope John Paul II’s personal photographer and was at the pope’s side almost every day. The images Mari captured for one-quarter of a century helped to frame an enduring legacy of John Paul’s pontificate.

As a photographer in the religious press, Arturo Mari has long been one of my heroes. I always enjoyed watching special liturgies from the Vatican on television and trying to spot Mari in the background, always dressed in a suit and tie and quietly going about his work. He was the pro’s pro. And he was a Nikonian.

Mari was interviewed by Avvenire, an Italian Catholic newspaper, in 2007, and described a visit to Argentina in 1982 with Pope John Paul. “I left Rome with 600 rolls (of film) — there weren’t digital cameras then — and, once there, the nuncio had to go out and buy another 200.” This story was retold by Catholic News Service when Mari announced his retirement. Read the entire story here.

Here is a video profile on Arturo Mari produced by Rome Reports TV News Agency. It’s really amazing that Mari, who retired as the Vatican’s official photographer in 2007, spent 51 years capturing images for the L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

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