By Father Mariusz Frukacz
ROME, FEB. 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- “Czestochowa occupies a special place in my life; here I feel at home,” said Arturo Mari, Blessed John Paul II’s photographer, when he met last week with a group of mostly students from the city.
To the question of how he sees Czestochowa seven years after John Paul II’s death, Mari stressed that “if you participate every day in Jasna Gora’s appeal, a traditional Marian hymn, and if the Museum of the Coins of John Paul II is here, the only one of its kind in the world, he, John Paul II, is here with you.”
Pope Wojtyla’s photographer said that “the real power of John Paul II’s pontificate was young people. You were his hope, his strength,” stressed Mari.
“Love for young people was his style of life. He wanted young people to live with dignity and in harmony with the Truth. Young people sought their way in the life of that man,” continued the photographer.
Mari recalled “the great importance that prayer, humility, love for another human being, but also suffering, had in John Paul II’s life.”
“The cross of Christ was a point of reference for him. John Paul II sought spiritual strength in the cross. His life was inserted in the mystery of the cross,” stressed the photographer.
“John Paul II did everything with humility. He had a profound faith. He strengthened young people with the words of the Gospel,” continued Mari.
The well-known photographer also recalled his friendship with Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski. “During Vatican Council II, Wyszynski made me meet the young bishop Karol Wojtyla,” recalled Arturo Mari.
He also recalled his last meeting with John Paul II, eight hours before his death. “He turned his head toward me, he touched my cheek and said in a low voice: ‘Thank you, Arturo.'”
Arturo Mari went to Czestochowa at the invitation of Krzysztof Witkowski, initiator of the Museum of Coins and Medals of Pope John Paul II.
Mari was the photographer of six popes, from March 1956 until his retirement in 2007. During John Paul II’s pontificate he took almost 6 million photos.