WASHINGTON (April 5, 2005)–National Geographic Books will release a soft-cover edition of the stunning book, INSIDE THE VATICAN (National Geographic Books, ISBN 0-7922-5297-7, $18, June 2005) by the quintessential National Geographic photographer James L. Stanfield. After seven months of attending every public appearance and mass given by the Pope from December 1984 to July 1985, Stanfield gained unparalleled access to Pope John Paul II and the Vatican while on assignment for National Geographic.
His photographs document rare works of art from masters Michelangelo and Raphael and provide private views of Pope John Paul II’s private quarters, the necropolis beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican’s world-renowned libraries. Stanfield had his breakthrough when a sergeant major in the Swiss Guard suggested he write a letter to the Pope asking permission to photograph him at rest and in prayer. He enclosed 15 of his best photos of the altar boys, the nuns and the Swiss Guard at work and play, which convinced the Pope to allow Stanfield to photograph him at his private retreat at Castel Gandolfo. It was there that the exquisite photograph of a reflective Pope strolling through the Garden of Our Lady was made.
Author Bart McDowell takes readers through centuries of Vatican history, describing the days of the Roman Empire, the glorious years of the Renaissance, and the power struggle between the Church and State. He also provides intimate and historic details about one the world’s most magnificent collections of paintings, sculptures, manuscripts and other treasures.
The new edition features a remarkable cover photograph of frescoes in the Sala Regia, antechamber to the Sistine and Pauline Chapels, which was taken by Stanfield and Victor Boswell. The two photographers stood side by side, using two different cameras to capture the enormous architectural and artistic wonder.
With 232 pages, including an eight-page gatefold and 150 full-cover photographs, INSIDE THE VATICAN shows both the majesty and the intimacy of life behind Vatican walls and captures the extraordinary charisma of Pope John Paul II on film.