Pope Francis signed photo to be auctioned at Party on the Plaza

Sep 24, 2015

While there are many great live and silent auction items at this year’s Party on the Plaza scholarship fundraiser event, one auction item in particular deserves special attention.

Newman University will auction an autographed photo of Pope Francis. The highest bidder will own this 19.5″ x 15.5″ exquisite photo of Pope Francis, signed by the Holy Father himself and sent to Newman by Vittoria Tomarelli, ASC, former General Superior of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ and honorary Newman alumna.

But just how does one acquire a signed photo of the Pope? In short – patience. A lot of patience.

The story behind the Pope Francis signed photo

Newman University Vice President for Advancement J.V. Johnston had planned a trip to Rome in 2014. He had an idea. “It would be cool if I were to arrange the right people to get a signed autographed photo of the Pope and I will just pick it up once I get to Rome and bring it back to Newman in time for the 2014 Party on the Plaza,” Johnston thought.

Sounded like a solid plan.

Johnston talked to Director of Archives and Mission Effectiveness Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC about her contacts in Rome. She mentioned that Fredrico Lombardi, SJ, Director of the Holy See Press Office, was the Pope’s main “PR guy” when Benedict XVI was serving as the Pope, and Sister Charlotte knew a direct correspondent of Lombardi’s, Sister Vittoria Tomarelli.

Several emails were exchanged before Sister Charlotte finally established communication with Tomarelli. By this time, Johnston’s idea had turned into a full-blown research project for Sister Charlotte.

Sister Charlotte learned that Tomarelli had purchased a photo printed on a special linen material – unframed.

Tomarelli then contacted Lombardi to coordinate the signing with Pope Francis. Lombardi told the correspondent that the Pope was extremely busy and would try to find time to sign the photograph.

Around early November 2014 and after the Party on the Plaza had taken place, Sister Charlotte received news that Pope Francis had signed the photograph. Excitement was in the air, but it was too early to celebrate. The photo still needed to make its way to Newman University.

A signed photo of Pope Francis can’t just be sent via Fed-Ex. The ASC sisters in Rome wanted to make sure that it was hand-carried to Newman University in one piece. In early 2015 one of the ASCs from the United States traveled to Newman to deliver the signed photograph to Sister Charlotte.

To make the item complete, the Frame Shop in Wichita donated their time and materials to frame the photo.

Although the signed photo missed the boat for the 2014 Party on the Plaza, those who attend the 2015 Party will benefit from all the patience and hard work that made it possible to have this item to auction at this year’s event.

Don’t Miss the Party on the Plaza

There’s still time to register, so come out and join fellow alumni and friends on Saturday, Sept. 26 for the 2015 Party on the Plaza.

The event will feature authentic German food and drink, entertainment and a live and silent auction. The proceeds from this fundraiser will go toward student scholarships.

Register for Party on the Plaza

Read about other auction items

Read about the Party on the Plaza’s beer selection