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January 17, 2023

Andy Warhol Meets Pope John Paul II, 1980

On April 2, 1980, Andy Warhol and his colleague Fred Hughes met Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. Although they expected a private audience, the pair found themselves among a throng of 5,000 people also waiting to see the Pontiff. Warhol waited three hours before finally shaking the pope’s hand and snapping a few photographs.

April 2, 1980 – Andy Warhol’s Diaries entry for his meeting with Pope John Paul II:
“Fred and I had to leave for our private audience wth the pope... We got our tickets and then the driver dropped us off at the Vatican. They finally took us to our seats with the rest of the 5,000 people and a nun screamed out, ‘You’re Andy Warhol! Can I have your autograph?’ She looked like Valerie Solanis so I got scared she’d pull out a gun and shoot me. Then I had to sign five more autographs for other nuns. Then finally the Pope was coming our way. He shook everybody’s hand and I said I was from New York, too.  I didn’t kiss his hand. The mob behind was were jumping down from their seats, it was scary. As soon as Fred and I got blessed we ran out.”
Andy wore his tamest wig and his plainest tie as a gesture of respect to the Holy Father. They believe this shows the artist in his truest light: For once, he looks like a person, not a symbol or a caricature.


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