Flaming Pope Photo Seen as Blessing from Beyond the Grave


An image captured in a bonfire in Poland has the Catholic world transfixed. Many believe it’s Pope John Paul II offering a blessing from beyond the grave.

Pope_2The Telegraph reports: “Dressed in robes, slightly hunched and his right hand raised in blessing, the image appeared during a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of the pontiff’s death. The photograph has since been shown repeatedly on Italian television, and a religious website displaying the image crashed as thousands logged on to see it for themselves. The bonfire was lit during a service on April 2, at Beskid Zywiecki – near the Holy Father’s birthplace in Wadowice, southern Poland.”

Said the photographer: “It was only afterwards when I got home and looked at the pictures that I realised I had something. I showed them to my brother and sister and they, like me, were convinced the flames had formed the image of Pope John Paul II. There is a tongue of flame to one side which resembles his right arm raised as if giving a blessing. I was so happy with the picture that I showed it to our local bishop who said that Pope John Paul had made many pilgrimages during his life and he was still making them in death.”

Of course, (and I’m sure I’ll be flamed for this, so to speak) what nobody’s really discussing is why the Pope chose the hellfires of Satan as his medium.

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  1. anon (gmail.com) says

    Well, it was the participants that chose to use fire. However, this could be Photoshop’ed a bit to make it more valuable as a picture. Overall, though, it’s a good example of the varying ways people can be wrong, from way-wrong as in this case, to almost right but not quite, largely as a result of wanting a particular outcome to be true even when it is not. Even as we type they are doing yet another inquest in the death of Princess Diana because Fayed wants to believe in a vast conspiracy to have her and Dodi killed–despite the clear problems of making such a theory work with the available evidence.

  2. Jonathon says

    Bonfires, grilled cheese sandwiches, stains on concrete walls, mildew stains in shower stalls…… is there nothing that doesn’t attract gullible people into seeing something that isn’t there?

    Who wants to bet that Photoshop had a hand in creating this “image” of the late pope?

  3. Brian says

    I will never cease to be amazed at the capacity for idiocy among the conservative religious faithful.

  4. jimmyboyo says


    I recomend watching The ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILIDELPHIA episode titled “The gang exploits a miracle”


    Mary appears as a water stain on the wall from the pipes from the toilets in the bathroom.


  5. noteasilyoffened says

    And here I thought he was hailing a cab or running to pick up his purse (note small ring of fire in front of him) he had dropped. We all need something to believe in.

  6. Joe says

    I once saw Delta Burke in a banana nut pancake at a waffle house in Babcock, Georgia. It was an experience of pure transcendence.

  7. says

    I could go on and on about how pathetic humans can be when they want to believe something so badly, but I’ll just stick to hoping yet again that, one day, people will just open their eyes and not allow themselves to be fooled by outdated beliefs such as this.

  8. Brian says

    “I once saw Delta Burke in a banana nut pancake at a waffle house in Babcock, Georgia. It was an experience of pure transcendence.”

    LOL… I just spat coffee all over my computer screen.

  9. Rey says

    Om, My god. It looks like this fire was built on Endor and “La Papa” is waiting for Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda to come join him in celebrating the defeat of the Empire.

    But that wouldn’t make sense. I always envisioned Pope-a John to be more of a Palpatine sort.

  10. Zeke says

    Oscar Wilde wisely said, “Man can believe the impossible, but can never believe the improbable”.

    That is so true.

    The same people who readily believe that Jesus/Mary/the Pope appear in fires, potato chips, Bank windows, grilled cheese sandwiches and driveway oil stains can’t believe scientifically proven facts.

  11. Zeke says

    JOE, that is the BEST and FUNNIEST comment I have seen on any blog this year!

    I too had to clean up the keyboard after shooting hot coffee through my nose!


    I think that one deserves a T-shirt!

  12. Wes says

    This is stretching, even for the religious… let me know when we can actually see a face or something.

  13. Scott says

    Of course I don’t think this is a sign from JP, but people will always see what they want to see. I can recall plenty of times where supposedly rational homos have obsessed over a fold of clothing or a shadow in a photograph, thinking that someone was putting his bits on public display.

  14. MT says

    I know I’m going to get in trouble for this one, but I have to play devil’s advocate of a sort.

    When it comes to wanting to believe this so badly gay men are not immune. How many people have we said ‘oh, he’s definitely gay but he won’t come out of the closet’ solely in the basis that we want him to be?

    We’re all the same on some level, guys.

    P.S. Joe’s comment definitely needs to go in the comment hall of fame!

  15. Zeke says

    Yeah MT, the chances that a person claiming to be straight (R. Hudson, G. Michael, Liberace, and the vast majority of all of us at one point in our lives) might actually be gay and closeted are almost exactly the same as a dead Pope making an appearance to give a blessing in a (likely photoshopped) picture of a bonfire.

    One is like 0% and the other is like…oh, maybe they aren’t similar at all.

  16. MT says

    All I’m saying, Zeke, is wishing won’t make the pope come out of a bonfire and it won’t turn Jake G into a homo.

  17. Zeke says

    MT, I have no opinion whatsoever on Jake’s sexual orientation and couldn’t care less if he’s straight, gay, bi, trans or a combination of any of the two but, at the same time, I see no reason to believe that he is any less likely to be a closeted gay person as any of the closeted actors who came before. I can’t imagine why anyone else should either.

    I see nothing strange about looking at this picture and thinking that it looks like the picture of the Pope, just like one sees clouds that look like animals. What I do find strange is people acting as if this is really a manifestation of the Pope sending a message to the masses. I would be equally concerned with the mental stability of a person who actually thought that animal shaped clouds were real animals traveling across the sky delivering a message from PETA.

  18. justincredible says

    First, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m taking the role of apologist, but a few things…

    Fire, as you may remember, was constructed by Dante to be in hell, and he’s not considered inspired. As far as I know, the bible speaks of an outer-darkness, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, and a place where worms eat through your skull. So the fire actually has little to do in the Catholic religion with Hell.

    In the (so-called) Old Testament, fire is a medium of God, and in the New Testament, it is a symbol of God’s love.

    The Catholic universe is one of enchantment. There is symbolism and meaning in everything, and it is comforting for many to be reminded of a loved one.

    I know what the Church says about gays. JPII didn’t believe in condoms. There’s hypocrisy and blah, blah, blah, I know, really I do.

    But J-P le deux was a great man, whose personal mission exalted peace. He was one of the two most progressive Popes EVER, who improved relations with many churches. He is given more credit to the fall of the Berlin wall than Reagan, who only looked good in front of a camera. Nope, JP was from Poland, and in his papacy, opposed communism, preached human rights, and the list goes on.

    Today is the anniversary of his becoming Pope John Paul II. Maybe the image should be an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments someone that has some opposing views to you, but still reveres your human dignity.

  19. Gregg says

    It is not the Pope. It IS however a giant fist of God slowly raising his/her middle finger. It’s up to about the first knuckle in this pic.

  20. Jake says

    Someone please tell me this conversation is not actually taking place.

    With everything we NEED to be paying attention to THIS is what we’re caught up in. An image of a dead Pope in a bonfire.

    Joe expressed it best, with a lack of reverence and the right amount of humanity.

    Justin, perhaps a little too seriously. Thanks for the respect Justin, but if I remember correctly Dante’s work, to which you refer, was entitled the Divine COMEDY.

    And when your enchanted church, from which I fled so gladly so many years ago, learns to turn that enchantment on its constituents and express love and acceptance of ALL God’s children, then you can talk to me of the meaning of that foolishness called Catholicism.

    Until that time it’s hatred disguised as piety, nothing more.

    Pope John-Paul, Delta Burke. Now I know why I never saw them together!

  21. Zeke says

    Forgive me if I don’t share your affinity for an evil bastard that told hundreds of millions of Africans that condoms were evil, even in the face of a burgeoning AIDS epidemic (which, partially thanks to him is now a full blown PANDEMIC that has killed tens of millions).

    Forgive me if I’m not ready to kiss the ring of the man who shamefully scapegoated gay people (by equating homosexuality with pedophilia) to cover his and others’ complicity in the rampant pedophile scandal that permeated his church of sexually repressed pervert pervert. He falsely and knowingly claiming that these pedophilic perverts were actually gay men and then proceeded push a policy intended to purge all gay men from the priesthood leaving the Catholic church sitting pretty while gay men around the world were unfairly blamed for the abuse of those boys.

    Forgive me if I did’t quite see the sincerity of his message when he “preached human rights” considering the fact that MY human rights, and the human and civil rights of my FAMILY, were not only not included in his sermons but were specifically and doggedly preached against.

    And finally, forgive me if I don’t consider a person telling me, and millions like me, that we are “intrinsically disordered” and “a threat to the family” and “enemies of God” a simple “opposing view”.

    To sum up, forgive me if I don’t kiss either the ring or the ass of your hate-filled super hero and forgive me for thinking that you are an equally offensive ass for having the audacity to tell me that I should.

  22. justincredible says

    Zeke, I really am sorry to have offended you. I do agree with you, and JPII isn’t actually my superhero. I’d certainly never ask you to kiss his ring, and for two reasons:
    1. he’s dead.
    2. if you did, it’d be like bending over for soap in a prison full of priests.

    So I awoke this morning, stepping over loads of history, sociology, and other books for college. Still groggy, I went to towleroad, and got caught up on the fact that referring to hellfire is incorrect. My adderall just kicked in, and I see how overly serious I took everything.

    Serious Zeke, I agree with you wholeheartedly on the AIDS issue and marginalization of gays, but I also know the context of which those contentions operate (although I don’t agree with them). I fled the church and still have a wound from it, but can’t help myself to look at it with the dual-minded thinking it taught me.

  23. Mike says

    Come on folks… don’t you think that if the pope did come back from beyond the grave, God would have cured his Osteoporosis?

  24. says

    Who, if anyone, we need to see come back as a Pope, is John Paul the FIRST. Now there was a man for change and sanity, but no, they had to kill him. Couldn’t have a pro-gay Pope in the Vatican, no sir…..

  25. anon (gmail.com) says

    If THEY had to kill him, why did they elect him Pope in the first place? Unanimously! Talk about seeing things that aren’t there!

  26. Adam Vanderlip says

    i was a little irked by the hellfire comment at the end, but im reasonably certain he meant that in jest and didnt mean any harm. still it was a little offensive and you know if a right wing pundit had made the same joke about a dead gay this site would be all over that comment. there was no need for that kind of vulgarness, especially on a site of this size.

  27. Zeke says

    JUSTINCREDIBLE, all is good bro. I understand what you mean about saying something without fully thinking it out first. I’ve done that more times than I care to admit. I appreciate your civil response to my firey (no pun intended) post.

    I also understand where you’re coming from about fleeing the church wounded but still feeling compelled at times to play devil’s advocate on its behalf. I was raised Southern Baptist. I tell everyone that the SBC is just the younger, Southern, redneck step-sister of the RCC. Ironically, the leaders of the SBC AND the RCC would call me a hell-bound heretic for making ANY connection between the two!

    You had the misfortune of catching me on a day when I have the flu and feel like sh*t. My husband says I should be banned from the internet when I’m sick because I get snippy and confrontational. It seems that he may be right (but I’ll tell admit that to him). I’m sure some of the people over at the “For the Bible Tells Me So/Crissy Gephardt” thread would fully agree with him.

    Oh well, sorry for coming down so hard on you. I meant what I said but I’m not so proud of how I said it.


    ADAM, right-wing pundits and fundamentalist blowhards make hell fire claims about gay people on national TV all the time except, UNLIKE Andy, they AREN’T joking.

    Besides, if you read what Andy said (as opposed to what you seem to want to think he said), he didn’t say that the Pope was burning in hell fire. He simply questioned why, if the claims being made are true, the Pope would choose a firey blaze (reminiscent of hell fire) to make his appearance. I can’t imagine how you could find that statement to be so terribly offensive.

  28. el polacko says

    had the photographer stepped a foot to the left or to the right he would have a pic that looks like a horsie or a duckie.
    but i guess they desperately need some “miracles” on the books so they can make the dead old fart a ‘saint’. jeeze louise, we’re still living in caves, aren’t we ? cavemen with cameras. and these are the people telling me how i should live my life ?? scary.

  29. Tarrows says

    Well, im a graphic designer and i use Photoshop all the time, and i can definitely see details around the “arm” that points out photoshop elements, now if this were an actual Video, then it might be harder to fake…

  30. James says

    ‘Course it’s “Photoshopped”.These funny poodlefakers will stop at nothing to con a few pennies from the credulous, they’re at it alla time. I’m no conspiracy buff but his is the sorta thing they do to catch the gullible. An’ don’ bother protesting, I do’ listen to b… s…

  31. Jerry in RI says

    Funny…when I was 8 years old, Sister Mary Elizabeth told me that the damned lived in the fire from Hell…Maybe we’re reading into this “message” wrong?