Baby-kissing Popes

October 5, 2012

By Max Rossi

There’s a man in this world that kisses more babies than any mother over the course of her life: the Pope.

Following the Vatican for more than 15 years I can absolutely say that John Paul II and Benedict XVI have kissed more babies than any other public figure in the world. It’s a common scene for the faithful to literally throw their babies to the Pope as he walks by or is driven by in the Pope mobile during general audiences or a pastoral visit.

Having a child blessed and kissed by the Pope is an unbelievable goal for a mother or father. And for a photographer it’s almost always a good shot especially when the baby is not so “old”. A newborn is totally unaware of what is going on but when a one or two year-old child is given to the Pope something brilliant can happen.

Some become afraid of the “white man” and start crying and kicking. So much so that even the Pope smiles. Then someone, like a parent or friend, starts interacting with him which usually produces good pictures. For us photographers, these moments are eagerly anticipated: a good picture could be taken!

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The Pope and Mayor Daley, Mayor Curley and a long string of hack politicians.

It used to be standard fare with or without photo ops.

What is it supposed to prove? Babies, puppies and kitties are guaranteed to arouse affection. It’s a built in biological/psychological response. It’s when they get older that the affection of even the kissers tends to wane and even work in reverse.

That’s probably a basic biological/psychological response too?

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