To His Holiness   

 Pope John Paul II


Your Holiness,

I appeal to you with deep respect. I am a Bulgarian artist. Since June’ 2003 I have been working with great assiduity on a painting dedicated to your meeting in prison with Mehmet Ali Agca – the man who shot at you on St.Peter’s square in 1981. I and people around me, and the whole world were shaken and horrified by this villainous encroachment on your life.

The particular reason for the painting was the expression of an accidentally noticed human face in which I perceived sorrow and repentance. In an unknown way this face provoked me to imagine and think again of your meeting with Agca in 1983. This made me realize that your forgiveness evoked the repentance in the opposite side and turned the meeting of two men – the Vicar of Christ and the murderer – in a great event. In fact, as an artist, I am convinced that no words can appropriately appraise and perpetuate this exceptional gesture.

This is why I undertook my painting with great respect and inspiration.

History has left for us some prominent portraits – Velasquez’s portrait of Pope Innocentius X, Rafael’s of Pope Julius II, Titian’s portrait of Pope Paul III, but while they stay an exemplar of great portrait art, your extraordinary act – the FORGIVENESS you gave to Agca, could not fit in the frames of official portrait. This is why I sought a form to express the categories of forgiveness and repentance. I strongly wish to have succeeded in my difficult task – to characterize your image psychologically - the bearer of forgiveness, light and blessing, and the image of Agca – burdened with the awareness of his guilt, touched by your Christian goodness and enlightened by your forgiveness.


The Pope and Agca                                                                                   oil on canvas, 100/95, 2004

WHAT A MEETING! Two religions, being at a worldwide enmity with each other, meet in personal human scale to epitomize the greatest triumph of love.

WHAT EXAMPLE! To the reckless political and religious confrontation, to wars, terrorism, death and destruction is contra positioned the simple humane gesture of forgiveness and love.

I present to your benevolent attention the result of my creative effort – the painting The Pope and Agca.

With greatest respect,

Rumen Gasharov




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