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Pope Leo XIII Being Seated Bestowing Blessing

A film first - a Papal blessing for the camera

Non-Fiction 1898 1 mins Silent


This is the culmination of WKL Dickson's cinematic coup - the first ever filmed Pope confers his blessing. No doubt Pope Leo XIII meant his blessing to reach through the screen to a wide audience, but is it too fanciful to imagine that he was also blessing the new medium of film itself?

Pope Leo XIII - already 88 years old and 20 years into his reign by the time these images were taken - was a surprisingly canny media operator, who had previously consented to having his voice recorded. This was one of a series of films of Leo and his retinue shot by Dickson during an Italian tour in 1898 - after months of negotiations with the Vatican.