March 28, 2013

Tracking Pope Francis: Finally, That Subway Photo


This photo was posted by Father James Mallon on March 14th, the day after Cardinal Bergoglio was named Pope. I just stumbled across it at Treehugger, filed under “Transportation / Public Transportation”(!), via Google Images. My question is: why hasn’t this photo circulated? It’s the first one I’ve seen that visualizes that narrative, manifest from the beginning, of the humble elder commuting by public transportation in Buenos Aires.

As for the photo itself, it has a powerfully candid quality, those surrounding the priest caught completely unaware. Bergoglio, on the other hand, does seem aware his portrait is being taken — suggested also by the look, in this direction, by the man in the cap. Still, there’s a wonderful dual quality to the photo.  Apparently looking slightly to our left, we get the sense he’s fully accessible, but at the same time, focused on deeper things “just beyond us.” And then, there’s his collar angled down so it also looks like a common undershirt: again, providing the dual sense of a clergyman (if the populist variety, like the Karl Malden character in “On the Waterfront”) but, just as well, some guy on the way to the factory.

Social media being that much of a conduit, I’m wondering if the fact we haven’t seen this, or similar, demonstrates that the man is that modest.

Tracking Pope Francis at the Bag

(photo: unknown. via @FJMallon/Twitter)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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