Photography exhibition Pope John Paul II

Following in the footsteps of the Pilgrim Pope.
John Paul II in the cities of the Shrines of Europe.

Pope John Paul II (born May 18, 1920) would celebrate his 100th birthday this year. Reason enough for the Shrines of Europe cities to show a photo exhibition of the Holy Father's trips to Altötting, Czestochowa, Einsiedeln, Fatima, Loreto, Lourdes and Mariazell. The photo exhibition on the occasion of the 100th birthday of the Holy Father was created by Czestochowa.

In 1978, the congregation of cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican chose Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, a Polish born in Wadowice, as Pope. The new pope took the name John Paul II. It was the first bishop of Rome from outside Italy after 455 years.

His pontificate was distinguished by numerous apostolic journeys. He made 104 pilgrimages to 130 countries of the world on all continents. He called himself the Pope-Pilgrim. During each pilgrimage he visited Marian shrines, emphasizing his devotion to the Mother of God and the special role of Mary in the life of the Church and his own. John Paul II served as head of the Catholic Church for over 26 years and died on April 2, 2005 in the Vatican. This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of John Paul II. The cities of the Shrines of Europe decided to celebrate this event with an exhibition of photographs from the Holy Father's journeys to Altötting, Częstochowa, Einsielden, Fatima, Loreto, Lourdes and Mariazell.

In November 1980 Pope John Paul II visited Altötting on his first trip to Germany. At that time, the chapel was filled with 60,000 believers. The Polish Pope always felt personally connected to the Bavarian pilgrimage city. During his visit, Pope John Paul II was accompanied by Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI.

John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Częstochowa six times. In addition to his great spiritual heritage, he left here numerous votas, including the Golden Rose - the highest papal decoration for the sanctuary and golden crowns consecrated and donated the day before his death that nowadays decorate the Miraculous Picture of Black Madonna.


Pope John Paul II came to the picturesque Swiss town Einsiedeln in the summer of 1984 to celebrate the 1050th anniversary of the Benedictine Abbey and to consecrate the new main altar of the church.

In May 1982 the Pope visited the Shrine of Fatima for the first time. This was the most important stage in his pilgrimage to Portugal because he wanted to thank Our Lady for saving his life. Exactly on the same day of the month, last year, in St Peter's Square in Rome, there was an assassination attempt on the life of the Pope, which mysteriously coincided with the anniversary of the first apparition of Fatima, on 13 May 1917. On the 10th anniversary of the 1991 attack on St. Peter's Square, the Pope returned to Portugal. While the Incarnation of God was celebrated in the great Jubilee Year 2000, the third and final pilgrimage of John Paul II to Fatima took place. By then the Pope was already weakened and was soon to turn 80.

In 1979, 1985, 1994 and 2004, the Holy Father John Paul II visited Loreto (Italy) 4 times.

John Paul II's first trip to Lourdes, which was planned for July 1981, did not take place due to the terrorist attack on the Pope. It wasn't until 2 years later that he traveled to Lourdes for the first time in 1983. In August 2004, he visited the city again. At that time the Pope was already in poor health. It was his last foreign pilgrimage which went down in history under the name "patient among the ill".

Pope John Paul II visited the Austrian Shrines of Europe city of Mariazell in autumn 1983. The Pope Monument in front of the town hall still reminds of the great importance the Holy Father had for the pilgrimage city of Mariazell. In 1997 Pope John Paul II was appointed an honorary citizen of Mariazell. 

See more

Pope John Paul II in Altoetting
Pope John Paul II praying in Czestochowa
Pope John Paul II in Fatima
Pope John Paul II in Loreto
Pope John Paul II in Mariazell
Pope John Paul II in Lourdes
 Pope John Paul II in Einsiedeln

We would like to thank all photographers for the provided pictures.



Heiner Heine, global professional photographer and cinematographer; Johannes Strauß, master photographer; Hildegard Pollety, photo reporter


Series of black and white photos: archive of Częstochowa City Hall; other photos are provided by Jasna Góra and the author is Zdzisław Sowiński.


Archive of the Sanctuary of Fátima


Archive of Loreto


Josef Kuss


Archive of Lourdes


Archive of Einsiedeln