Category Archives: Religious photojournalism

Information about religious photojournalism, particularly in the Catholic press

Remembering Pope John Paul II

April 2 marked the sixth anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s death. While working at the Catholic Herald in Milwaukee, I attended several prayer services held in observance of John Paul’s passing.

Hours after Pope John Paul II passed away, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan spoke to the media about the life and legacy of Pope John Paul II. The press conference was held on the steps of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

Earlier in the day a noon prayer service was held at St. Anthony Church, Milwaukee. Pope John Paul’s  picture was placed on a side altar next to a single candle, where mourners came forward to kneel and pray.

On May 1, the beatification of Pope John Paul II will take place at St. Peter’s Basilica. Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process and the late pope will be referred to as blessed.


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.

Season for Passion (plays)

For Christians, the liturgical season of Lent is a time to remember the final hours of Jesus’ life on earth. We call it Christ’s Passion. All around the country, Catholic youth take part in Passion plays staged at schools and churches during Lent. It’s an opportunity for children to experience through music and drama the sacrifices that their savior, Jesus Christ, made for them.

Posted here are photos of Passion plays staged around Wisconsin.


Here is a YouTube video I created from a Passion play in 2009 featuring children from Eden, Wis. Check out other videos on my YouTube channel.

Dolan, humor and food

As I was reviewing archive photos that are stored on my Photoshelter page, a theme developed in photos taken of Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Now archbishop of New York, he served in Milwaukee from 2002 to 2008. I worked at the Milwaukee Catholic Herald from 2001 to 2007 and one of my duties was serving as staff photographer.

I spent a lot of time photographing Archbishop Dolan on his travels to parishes, schools and other locations across the 10-county archdiocese. In nearly every pastoral visit, it was an occasion for Archbishop Dolan to crack a joke and share a laugh, or to find something to eat. Oftentimes it was both.

I thought I would post some of the photos from my archives of Archbishop Dolan that involved food or humor. Let me know what you think.

Stained glass windows

One of my photo hobbies is shooting stained glass windows. Since most of my photo assignments take place inside churches I usually come across a lot of stained glass windows. From Superior to Racine and Kenosha, I’ve captured some beautiful stained glass images around Wisconsin.

There are generally two types of stained glass windows: the traditional glass that uses lead to hold the pieces together and faceted glass, which uses thick slabs of colored glass and faceted edges. The glass is held in place using a cement mixture.

One of the biggest selection of faceted stained glass windows exists at Allouez Catholic Cemetery in Green Bay. Here’s a link to a story I wrote on the windows last year.

Here are a few photos from my collection of stained glass windows. These were taken at St. Therese Church in Appleton.


Pilgrimage to Italy

In late April I will travel to Italy as part of a pilgrimage sponsored by The Compass. The trip will feature stops in Rome, Venice, Assisi and Florence. If that wasn’t enough to make a photographer shutter, er, shudder, we recently discovered that on the day of our arrival in Rome, May 1, Pope Benedict XVI will oversee the beatification of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
So it looks like my plans to spend a quiet day photographing the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica on May 1 or 2 have been interrupted. But like any other photo assignment, you go with the flow and make the most of it. Anyway, it should be a pretty exciting time at the Vatican come May.
Here are a couple of photos from a previous trip to Rome in 2002.