Two well-known Vaticanists have collected photos that raise a corner of the veil on the customs and daily life around the popes. Exciting

The Vatican is the state that best controls its communication. Papal apartments, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, every image or photo that comes out of these places pays tribute to the artistic wealth and historical density of the “central bank” of Christianity. Official images leave little room for the clashes, misfortunes and joys of a micro-society where a multitude of small stories or great dramas are played. This is the ambition of the Secret Photos of the Vatican , a big book signed by Caroline Pigozzi and Giovanni Maria Vian, two Vaticanists who follow the tribulations of the various bishops of Rome respectively for Paris Match and L’Osservatore Romano .

The photos and the long legends that accompany them present all the trades and all the unofficial situations that irrigate the city-state. The agonies and deaths of the popes, the Swiss Guards, the interior of the residence of Castel Gandolfo, where the predecessors of François – because he hates holidays – took a little rest, the rites very codified conclaves … The authors lift a corner of the veil.


Three chapters have particularly caught our attention. “Women finally! Shows that, although long hidden or even concealed, women play a decisive and growing role in the Vatican. Sister Pascalina Lehnert, close and devoted collaborator of Pius XII , nicknamed Papessa as it was given the influence, wiped the plasters and was expelled without care from the micro-state the day after the death of his master. Since then, the collaborators of the bishop of Rome have been accepted and even recognized.

“The Vatican during the war” returns to the attitude of the same Pius XII face Nazism. Far from controversy, the authors list the statements, documents, and deeds that prove that the Pope quickly and unambiguously opposed Hitler, saving the lives of several thousand Jews.
More anecdotal, but very spectacular in pictures, the pages devoted to the animals of the pontiff rulers prove that they are not only the shepherds of Catholics and that they cross in their peregrinations koalas, lion cubs, tigers, camels and many others creatures of God. If in the Vatican cats are kings, dogs are more difficult to tolerate. It was a woman, Countess Della Torre, wife of the director from 1920 to 1960 of the official daily  L’Osservatore Romano, who broke the ostracism of this animal by ostentatiously walking his dachshund in the Vatican Gardens.

Caroline Pigozzi and Giovanni Maria Vian have collected more than 300 rare photos and mix anecdotes and pages of history, investigation, and echoes. A complete and amazing book.

“The Secret Pictures of the Vatican” by Caroline Pigozzi and Giovanni Maria Vian, Reportage Collection, Grund, 324 pages, 29.95 euros. To be released on October 26, 2017.