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Autographs by Johannes Paul II

Autographs during his time as Pontifaksts can be without doubt mentioned as „not common“. If the head of the Catholics response to each autograph request he won’t be able to take care about his main authority.

However this is not the main cause why authetnic autographs from the Pope’s has been rarely offered on the marktplace during the last 30 years. Main reason for that is surely the fact that signed photographs mainly have been given to choosen persons and they keep them and don’t offer them to the public even in upcoming generations. The ones which have been given to Dignitary of Church often went into archieves of the Church, those to the laily prominents often kept in their families and rarely offered for sale.

But is has been never as difficult as during Johannes Paul II’s time to obtain a current Pope autograph. Since the time of Giovanni Benelli it has been getting even more difficult. Before could maybe be successful on devoured ways. Known examples are through further Cardinals or personalities. Sometimes with help of a Bishop, sometimes with helpfully diplomats or even with the „victim readiness“ of the vaticani kitchen sister „His Holiness“ of Santa Marta, which was not especially famous in the 2. Vatikani Council for his delicious cooking…

Regarding to Giovanni Benelli (manager of the vaticani burocratism). It was him who had a special influence to keep his pope (Paul VI.) away from the troubles to give his own signature and therefore made it much more difficult for autograph seekers. It went even so far that he prophibit (just Archbishop himself) to Cardinals to send out autographed photographs.

However they often not keep on this prophibition, which offically came from the Cardinal head of secretary „Villot “ (on the paper the second highest position of the hirarchy) but in trueness came from Benelli. Benelli himself nearly responsed to no letters and therefore restricted the liberty of autographs although Paul VI enjoyed to sign especially books which has been brought to him.

„In front of God everybody is the same“ but this is not true if you remain to autographs. Diplomats and Politicans, influence people has been given as gift sometimes a wreath of roses or a signed remembering medal received a signed photograph in different quality; this has been forever and will be kept like this.

Until the time of Benelli it was therefore possible for „ranked“ people to get his photograph which shows them during the audience signed. Until as mentioned before Benelli came. His introduced practices has been kept until today even as the prefered pope candidat of Paul VI moved to Florence.

While the Polish Kardinal Woytola become the new „Pontius Maximus“ and went for new ways especially with the selection of church offices the secretary kept this practice regarding autographs. A further step was that even audience invitation cards for ranked visitors included to latain addition „It is requested not to show his holiness a photo and ask for his signature“. (see illustration – in german).

Therefore the obidient trimmed dignitaries has been taken „the wind out of the sail“ but even the pope has some „poor hours“. Pope Johannes Paul I (autographs as pope are exceptional rare) gave during on of his less audiences some children autographs. (see illustration 2) and even John Paul II could not refuse, to the aifretness of the curies, to signed Romanian children cards and album pages. That he gave children autographs has been mentioned in the press several times for example „the small children in the Romanian Church „Grand Madre die Rio“ or to a Dom children in Münster (Germany) who received his Paraphe signature „JP II“. Especially bishops refused to help with requests which came to the solution that autographs especially as Pope Johannes Paul II are rare and collectors should be satisfied with his cardinal signature „Karol Woytola“ which is frequently offered on the market and he was quite willing to response even through mail requestes during this time. In Germany Cardinal Woytola has been seen to sign a plenty of First Day Covers and other collectibles in Mainz.

After the death of John Paul II we could read in the press that the Pope decreed in his 15 pages testament (which he started 1999) that all his personal handwrittings should be destroyed after they have been published.

We don’t know the reasons why the previous Archbishop Karol Woytola decided in this way but until the 8th of May 2005 the order hasn’t been executed. It is most possible that his testament will be kept in one of the Vaticani archivs.

At the beginning of June the surprise: Stanislaw Dziwisz, private secretary of the deceased Pope mentioned in the Polish radio that he has refused the will of Johannes Paul II and didn’t bearned the documents. „The handwriting is a big treasure which have been kept for the next generation“. Everything should be ordered and selected and nothing is acceptable for a burning“. The handwritings include a „histroical heritage“ and of „great words“ which shows the varitiy charcter of the Pope.

Experts believe that these heritage could be helpful if John Paul II are blessed.

I personally believe that it further could show that Stanislaw Dziwisz was one of the secretarians who signed photographs for the Pope.

I like to start with my personal autograph study and ask all collectors to help me understanding the quantity of Pope John Paul autographs appeared on the marktplace especially with the Vatican stamp.

(They can be ordered at http://www.vatican.va/news_services/or/photo/primi_piani_01/index.html)

It has been mentioned in Max Rambod Autograph Catalogue 06/05 that photographs with the blind stamp „Segretaria Particolari di sua Santita“ is only affixed on photos authentically signed by the „Holy Father“.

As I would love to believe that such a proof would be real I try to understand how the Pope has been sometimes shown during his last years and everybody knows that he has been the same „Parkinson“ illness as Muhammed Ali. When I remember him speaking to the crowd it was a pained men who hardly could speak and move. When I try to combine this rememberence with the beautiful full signed oversized photographs I get my doubts. I have not seen one of these about 100 photographs sold shortly after his dead sold photographs any „old age“ signature or trembles or at least breakings. When I met M.Ali he has to fight with a „M.Ali“ signature which was far away to be written in a way like these photographs.

Of course I believe that they have been more close to the pope as every other forgery sold so often during the last years but the questions should be allowed to question this seal confirmation.

I personally believe that there had been at least two secretarials signed those photographs. I could imagine that

Secretarial signed photographs

Example 1) Arturo Mari secretary ?

Example 2) Stanislav Dziwisz secretary ?

Handwriting Analyse

Although the Vatikan stamped signatures are looking quite similar as the confirmed ones there are two major differences in the style

a) the „nn“ in Joannes is always written like a Girlande (like a Mc Donald’s m) but more like a arcade (corner one) in the proofed examples
b) the „P“ is is always the highest letter in the signature but in the confirmed ones it is the „J“ or „l“
c) „the open first „o“ is looking to strongly open if you compared to proofed examples where
d) the is mostly like a „dash“ between the oa but on these examples it is mostly a hald circle
e) the propotions are streght in the high if compared to the proofed examples
f) none of these photographs has a stop or identifaction that it has been written by a old person. They are always written in full without a break or shaky
g) the „P“ always looked streched although you could notice in autographs later signature that that there has been a tendence that the „P“ is getting even shorter.

Backround story provided with these stamped autographs:

Backround story provided by „Bob“

“I have been collecting JPII and Papal photos for about 5 years and the colour JP““ photos were obtained from a Vatican Swiss Guard over the last 3 years. I tried to indicate when they were obtained/signed (approximately). I have a special Vatican acces. I know you don’t consider ay of this but decorated Swiss Guard who lays down his Life for the Pope and works INSIDE the Vatican is not your normal insider.

This comment is questionable in my opinion as we received following fax from the Vatican regarding an order (Vatican photo service: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/or/photo/primi_piani_01/index.html)
for one of these signed photographs

Open Questions

1) Was anyone at the Vatican EVER given permission to sign the Pope's name?
2) How many official documents did the Pope typically sign in an average month?
3) When were official "printed" signatures sanctioned for use by the Vatican, and on what type of documents?
4) Was there a type of pen he did used typically to sign?
5) Did the Pope have an autopen machine?
7) Did he inscribe or dedicate photographs ?
These are all good questions, Markus, for which I'm afraid I simply don't have enough significant information to respond. Suffice it to say that MANY of these secretarial photos are still being offered far and wide as "authentic", and they have grossly undermined the value of legitimate examples. John R. and I caught on to these a few years back...
Hello Markus! I have a letter that I acquired that I believe may be an authentic Pope John Paul II letter.  It is written on the his own stationary with the Vatican seal, and has  an addition letter from the recipient (i found these letters in a picture frame at a thrift store) who was sending the letter to her family, and said they received the letter from the pope. I would be so appreciative if you would look at some pictures of it to tell me what you think, as it looks like you are one of the few who really know his signature best.

I'd like to clarify much of the misinformation that is contained in this chain.   I find it a little curious that hypotheses and theories are being espoused by well-intentioned folks who have never had occasion to meet Cardinal Dziwisz, Arturo Mari, several high ranking cardinals, and Catholic Monsignors and priests who knew Pope John Paul II very well.  I have personally met each of these individuals including Cardinal Dziwisz for two days when he visited the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC.  I had an opportunity to discuss JPII's signing habits with Dziwisz himself and I attach a letter  from him where he definitively states that the seal of the secretary was indisputable proof of the authenticity of the two photos (of the type being questioned) and that the autographs were those of the Holy Father.To suggest that a Cardinal of the Catholic Church would falsify such information is incredulous.   I also attach a letter written be noted papal expert Fr Richard Kunst who concelebrated several masses with the Pope and obtained several of his autographs  personally; this I believe further validates the authenticity of the questioned signatures.Furthermore I attach a copy of a COA from JSA who at least for one of these photos felt they it was authentic.Please also be aware that a close personal friend and Catholic Monsignor Michael Dylag. was an avid collector of JPII autographs.  Dylag had dinner with the Pope more than 30 times and concelebrated Mass with him more than 50 times.  He states in the attached link that the Pope signed more than 500 items for him, including 35 items the week before he died.  I visited Mons. Dylag's residence and can assure you that the signatures were consistent or identical to those being question.   In fact, Dylag was the person who recommended that the raised seal be used as evidence of authenticity.   Check out the link below if you doubt me.



If above link doesn't work, simply google Mons Dylag Pope John paul and u will see the article.



The order to the OR for a papal photo was for an unsigned original one that are sold publicly-----to suggest that this is for something signed in original ink with the papal seal is simply inaccurate.  I'm not going into the issue of Parkinson's and the fact that the Pope signed with his right hand and that the Parkinson's affected primarily his left hand.  Also, the medical impacts of Parkinsons on writing ability differ dramatically from those inflicted with it---and for non-medical experts to be opining and comparing Muhammad Ali's situation to the Pope's is not relevant---as any medical expert will tell you that there are wide variations in symptoms from this unfortunate disease.  I hope this is viewed as helpful---but i place a high degree of trust in information i have received either orally or in writing from high-ranking members of the Catholic Church who were close to the late Pope.   Any doubters can feel free to contact any of these individuals directly including Mons Dylag or even Dziwisz himself.






Thanks for posting this valuable and valid information.



Thank you...I understand the controversial nature of this discussion but have exhaustively researched this field.  Honestly, if anyone wanted to discuss the matter independently with others close to the Vatican, pls let me know


Welcome to Autograph Magazine Live! I'm excited that you joined us and I hope you become a regular. You bring experience and expertise to our community in an area I don't think anyone in the US knows as well.

Thanks for your input.

I look forward to being a regular.
Hello Bob. I am desperate in the attempt to find a knowledgeable
Attachments: No photo uploads here
I do not understand why it posted that when I wrote a long paragraph, but I will retype this. Hello Bob, I am desperate in the attempt to find a knowledgeable person of who can inform me as to whether or not my Pope card is real. Besides the card, I found this with a letter included. It is from Rome, and apparently the person was sending it to family or a friend. Please help in anyway you can, I will be so grateful. I included the 3 pictures of the card in my last post, but I will include 2 of the letter here as well. The signature by the way, is in Polish as stated on the card. Thanks so much,

Attachments: No photo uploads here

Hi Steve,

This appears to be one of the preprinted Easter cards that were sent in return to people who sent Easter Cards to the Pope.  In addition, they were sent to dignitaries, higher level prelates, and friends of the Vatican.  VIPs and special friends received a folded version where the Pope sometimes added  personalized messages either typed or hand written and signed in his own hand.  A sample of a XMAS version he sent to his dentist is attached. The writing  on your card was penned by the Pope---but its  preprinted and not in original hand written ink.

I would like to thank you for your time and expertise. I greatly appreciate it!

  I am confused however by your explanation. Does it being preprinted mean that something like an auto-pen produced it? When looking closely, it looks very much like hand written ink. Also, is this card still of value in any way?  Any information I can attain on this card is appreciated. Also, is it truly from the Vatican, given directly from the Pope? Thank you so much for your help Bob,



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