• Pope Francis greets those gathered at St. Patrick's Cathedral after leading an evening prayer there Sept. 24.

Picturing history

By Mike Crupi/Photo Editor / CNS    |    09.30.2015
Category: Viewfinder Blog


It is truly a gift to be able to be a witness to history. As a photojournalist I've had the privilege to look through my camera's viewfinder as many historic events have unfolded. I photographed rescue workers at Ground Zero days after Sept. 11, 2001, covered the aftermath of Pope John Paul II's death during a trip through his home country of Poland in 2005 and documented Pope Benedict XVI's Mass at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008.

But something felt a little different about the history that was made throughout last week. Perhaps never in modern history has there been a more talked about religious figure than Pope Francis. The anticipation for his first trip to this country, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, was truly unprecedented. In his public appearances here the media hung on his every word, analyzing and reanalyzing each speech.

I was asked by Catholic News Service to help with coverage of the visit, and so I was waiting patiently last Thursday inside St. Patrick's Cathedral when Matt Lauer announced that the pope's plane had landed at JFK Airport. St. Patrick's is a sacred space, but in that moment it sounded like a football stadium as those in attendance let out a roar of approval. Those cheers, duplicated by the crowd I photographed at Madison Square Garden the following evening, seemed to me a cathartic release for an entire nation sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to see and hear Pope Francis make history. I was lucky enough to have another "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity, not necessarily to get the photo, but to soak in the energy that comes with a historic moment. But, for the record, I got the photo.

photo by Mike Crupi/CNS

People take part in a Sept. 25 Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at Madison Square Garden.

photo by Mike Crupi/CNS

Press photographers set up in a side aisle at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Copyright © 2015 Catholic News Service, Inc. All rights reserved. Linking is encouraged, but republishing or redistributing, including by framing or similar means, without the publisher's prior written permission is prohibited.

Sign up for our FREE weekly e-newsletters!

Choose from news (Monday), leisure (Thursday) or worship (Saturday) — or get all three!