The following commentary is from the EWTN series, The Papacy: A Living History, The Papal Artifacts Collection of Father Richard Kunst. It is from the first episode of Season 2: The Canonization of Pope John Paul the Great. A DVD of Season 2 will be available from EWTN in 2015.
The commentary provided here is a compilation of the conversation between Father Richard Kunst, the Papal Artifacts’ Expert, and his co-host, Father Ryan Moravitz.
The first item I want to talk about is associated more with Pope Francis. He is very popular as a relatively new Holy Father, but he was somewhat unknown as a cardinal in many respects, and his autograph for that reason is very rare. Yet I have this autographed photo of him.
The reason we talk about him with John Paul II is because it is an autographed photo of Cardinal Bergoglio as he is being elevated by John Paul II. So it’s a photo of the two of them together, signed by Cardinal Bergoglio, soon to be Pope Francis.
Again, it’s very rare—the fact is that we know how simply he lived as a cardinal in regards to spending money. He never would sign autographs for people through the mail. You could only get an autograph in person. And so that makes it very hard to get any autograph of Pope Francis in any form but especially when he was a cardinal.
I’m always impressed by the brotherhood of the priesthood. You can also see that in this photograph as well as the recognition that Pope John Paul II will now be canonized by Pope Francis. They were really brothers in this life and especially in their priesthood. Sharing the priesthood: you can see this in this photograph.
Another thing that is interesting is the humility of Pope Francis, because his signature on the top line just simply says, Bergoglio. The bottom line says, Bishop of Buenos Aires, in German, because it was a German who actually got this item in person.
This photograph was taken during the conclave of the consistory that elevated Bergoglio to the cardinalate. It was the largest consistory elevation of cardinals in the history of the church. Historically speaking, in more than one way, it was choosing the future pope. It’s also interesting that Pope Francis is the first pope, obviously, that was made a cardinal by John Paul II—the last three popes were elevated by Pope Paul VI.
I love the fact that he puts Bishop of Buenos Aires below his name. He takes such pride in his role as bishop. And he’s assumed the great role of being the Bishop of Rome now as one of John Paul II’s successors.
It’s a very nice item to have in the Collection with the association of the two of them together.